LED ZEPPELIN-THE COMPLETE BBC SESSIONS.
Between 2014 and 2015, Led Zeppelin’s back-catalogue was remastered and reissued. It was without doubt, one of the most extensive reissue program of recent years.
Led Zeppelin’s extensive and lovingly curated reissue program began in 2014, with albums being released in chronological order. This began with Led Zeppelin which released in January 1969, and included every album released during the band’s career. This included the 1976 live album The Song Remains The Same, and 1979s In Through The Out Door, which was the Led Zeppelin’s final album of original material. The final reissue was Coda, which was released in November 1982, two years after the tragic death of drummer John Bonham. His death spelt the end of Led Zeppelin. However, the ten albums that had been reissued were a reminder of one of the greatest rock bands ever, Led Zeppelin.
Their albums were reissued over the course of a two year period. During that period, every album released during Led Zeppelin’s career was remastered, and was released in multiple formats. This included everything from heavyweight vinyl and CD to luxurious multi-format box sets and even digital downloads. There was something for everyone, including a veritable feast of bonus tracks on the second disc in the Deluxe CD editions.
Many of these track had never been released before. Many record buyers are only interested in the album, and may only listen to the bonus tracks once. After all, many of the bonus tracks were alternate takes band demos. However, for collectors and completists, the bonus tracks meant they had to have the new reissues. It didn’t matter that they multiple copies of the album. They didn’t have these particular track. So they dug deep and bought the new reissues. Now they’re going to have to dig deep one more time, and buy The Complete BBC Sessions, which were recently released by Atlantic Records as a three disc box set.
There will be many people who are thinking that The Complete BBC Sessions rings a bell? Almost, but not quite. Back in 1997, Atlantic Records released a two CD compilation BBC Sessions. It was a two CD set that featured twenty-four songs. They were recorded in London between 1969 and 1971. However, these songs weren’t The Complete BBC Sessions.
Not at all. The Complete BBC Sessions which was recently released by Atlantic Records, has been expanded to a three CD set that now, features thirty-three songs. The previously unreleased songs feature on the third disc. Hence the change of title to The Complete BBC Sessions. It’s a welcome, if belated addition to Led Zeppelin’s back-catalogue.
Forty-five years after Led Zeppelin’s final recording for the BBC, The Complete BBC Sessions have been released. Jimmy Page produced The Complete BBC Sessions and oversaw the remastering. The Complete BBC Sessions was then reissued in various formats. It’s a reminder of the early years of Led Zeppelin’s career, as they went from debutantes to rock royalty.
Like many new up-and-coming rock bands in the late sixties and early seventies, Led Zeppelin were asked to record sessions for the BBC, the national television and radio company, This was a signal that a band’s star was in the ascendancy.That was the case with Led Zeppelin.
Between 1969 and 1971, the recording engineers used by the BBC to record live sessions like those on The Complete BBC Sessions, were some of the best trained in Britain. They were trained to be able to record everything from an orchestra to a a jazz trio or a rock band like Led Zeppelin. The engineers were
also determined to capture the best performance by a band. This they regularly managed to do. In the case of Led Zeppelin, six sessions were recorded at various venues in London and Paris. These six recording sessions that took place between 1969 and 1971.
Sadly, after 1971 Led Zeppelin’s relationship with the BBC became strained, and no further sessions were recorded. By then, Led Zeppelin were one of the biggest bands on planet rock, and were locked into a gruelling schedule of recording and touring. However, in the early days, thing were very different. In 1969, Led Zeppelin’s career was in its infancy. Soon, they were enjoying commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic. Still, they recorded six sessions for the BBC, where they honed their live sound. The Complete BBC Sessions is a reminder of Zeppelin early days.
There’s a total of fourteen songs on disc one of The Complete BBC Sessions. Unfortunately, the songs aren’t in chronological order, which would’ve allowed the listener to hear how Led Zeppelin developed and matured as a band. That’s just a minor gripe. What matters is the music, which on disc one, was released during 1969
The earliest recordings took place on 3rd March 1969, just two months after the release of Led Zeppelin in January 1969, At
the Playhouse Theatre, Led Zeppelin recorded four songs, including You Shook Me, I Can’t Quit You Baby and Dazed and Confused for the Top Gear radio show. This was the perfect showcase for Led Zeppelin, who were more popular in America, than Britain. Having their music played on the BBC allowed Led Zeppelin’s music to be heard by a huge audience. So Led Zeppelin returned throughout 1969 to recorded further sessions for the BBC.
This included a session at The Aeollian Theatre, on 16th June 1969 for the Tasty Pop Sundae radio show. That night, Led Zeppelin recorded another four more tracks, including The Girl I Love She Got Long Black Wavy Hair. Communication Breakdown and a cover of Eddie Cochran’s Somethin’ Else. It’s reinvented by Somethin’ Else Led Zeppelin during two magical minutes. Already, Led Zeppelin were a tight, talented and inventive band. They had the ability to think on their feet, and reinvent a song. This would be the case throughout their career.
Later in June, on the 24th, Led Zeppelin made their way Maida Vale Studio 4, where they were scheduled to record a session for Top Gear. That night, Led Zeppelin hit the ground running, opening their set with Whole Lotta Love, before moving onto Communication Breakdown. After back to back classics, Led Zeppelin dropped the tempo on the Page and Plant penned What Is and What Should Never Be. The final track was Page and Plant’s rework of Robert Johnson’s Travelling Riverside Blues. It was a masterful performance for what was a relatively new band. They were booked to record another sessions just four days layer.
Led Zeppelin made a return to the Playhouse Theatre, in London on 27th June 1969. They took to the state at 7.00pm and rehearsed their set. Then at 8.45pm, Led Zeppelin took to the stage and ran through a six song set. It opened with Communication Breakdown, which set the bar high. From there, Led Zeppelin moved onto I Can’t Quit You Baby and later, You Shook Me. Closing their set was How Many More Times. At 10.15pm, Led Zeppelin closed what was the finest and final session they recorded for the BBC during 1969.
Just over two years after making their debut for the BBC, Led Zeppelin were one of the biggest rock bands in the world. In America, where they were most popular, Led Zeppelin were playing to 20,000 sellout shows. Despite this, Led Zeppelin agreed to record a show for the BBC.
It was recorded not in at the Paris Cinema, in Regent Street, London, on the 1st of April 1971. This was a hugely important gig for Led Zeppelin. Although they were popular in Britain, Led Zeppelin were much more popular in America. This irked. It seemed that British audience hadn’t embraced the band’s music as much as the same way as in America. The show at the Paris Cinema was a chance for Led Zeppelin to showcase their considerable skills.
Determined to win over a new audience, Led Zeppelin headed to the Paris Cinema at 3pm to rehearse. Six hours later, Led Zeppelin returned and delivered a barnstorming performance between 9pm and 10.45pm.
Having opened the show with Immigrant Song, they moved onto Heartbreaker and Since I’ve Been Loving You. From there, Led Zeppelin then moved on to a trio of stonewall classics, Black Dog, Dazed and Confused and Stairway To Heaven. Led Zeppelin had matured as a band during the last two years. They unleashed a masterful performance, as Going To California gave way to That’s The Way and later, Thank You. Just two songs later, Led Zeppelin bid their farewell.
Three nights later, a huge audience would hear Led Zeppelin live in concert. It was aired between 7pm and 8pm on BBC Radio 1’s In Concert program. Little did anyone realise that never again, would Led Zeppelin record another session for the BBC. It was the end of an era
Disc there features tracks from the various sessions recorded between 1969 and 1971. The earliest recording took place on March 1969 at the Playhouse Theatre, London. That night, Led Zeppelin recorded four tracks for the Top Gear radio show. This included a barnstorming version of their future classic, Communication Breakdown. Less than two weeks later, Led Zeppelin were back at the BBC.
This time, they were at the BBC’s own studios in Maida Vale. In Studio 4, Led Zeppelin would record three songs that would feature on a show for BBC World Service, Blues Is Where You Hear It. Given the importance blues music played in Led Zeppelin’s music, they were the perfect guest on the show. Their love of the blues shines through. Having opened their set with one of their own songs, Sunshine Woman, Led Zeppelin followed this with a cover of Willie Dixon’s blues Can’t Quit You Baby. Closing their three song set was a cover Willie Dixon and J.B. Lenoir’s You Shook Me, which Led Zeppelin reinvented. When Blues Is Where You Hear It was eventually, broadcast, Led Zeppelin were heard in the four corners of the globe. It was good publicity for them, as their career blossomed.
Led Zeppelin headed The Aeollian Theatre, on 16th June 1969 where they recorded four songs for the Tasty Pop Sundae radio show. This included the Page and Plant composition What Is and What Should Never Be. This is one of their early songs. However, it was a partnership that would flourish over the next seven years.
On 27th June 1969, Led Zeppelin returned to the Playhouse Theatre, in London. Rehearsals began at 7.00pm, with the show beginning at 8.45pm. That night, Led Zeppelin ran through a six song set, which included Dazed and Confused and White Summer. Led Zeppelin were firing on all cylinders, and left the stage at 10.15pm. They came and conquered during what had been one of their finest sets for the BBC.
Two years later, Led Zeppelin returned to the Paris Cinema, in Regent Street, London, on the 1st of April 1971. By then, Led Zeppelin were one of the biggest rock bands in the world. Still, though, they agreed to record a concert for BBC Radio 1’s In Concert series.
For Led Zeppelin, the day started at 3pm at the Paris Cinema, when they rehearsed their set. Six hours later, Led Zeppelin returned and between 9pm and 10.45pm, worked their way through twelve songs. This included What Is and What Should Never Be and Communication Breakdown.That night, Led Zeppelin won over the audience with a barnstorming performance. It was Led Zeppelin’s BBC swan-song.
Sadly, the Paris Cinema concert was the last session Led Zeppelin record another session for the BBC. The relationship between the Led Zeppelin and the BBC became strained. That’s why Led Zeppelin never recorded another sessions for the BBC.
By the Paris Cinema sessions, Led Zeppelin had only recorded thirty-twoThe Complete BBC Sessions
The only sessions Led Zeppelin recorded for the BBC, feature on The Complete BBC Sessions. It’s a three CD set, which was recently reissued by Atlantic Records. It features Led Zeppelin between 1969 and 1971, when they made the step from rock debutantes to superstars.
This journey only took two years. During that period, Led Zeppelin’s first three album sold in vast quantities. Eventually, the three albums sold twenty-six million copies. Led Zeppelin II and Led Zeppelin III both topped the charts in Britain and America. That was the case across Europe, Canada and Australia. Across the globe, Led Zeppelin’s first three albums reached the upper reaches of the charts. Commercial success and critical acclaim came Led Zeppelin’s way from their eponymous debut album. It was a similar case when they played live.
During lengthy and gruelling tours, Led Zeppelin proved a popular draw. By then, they were a tight, talented band who each night, could reinvent a song. Often, Led Zeppelin never played the same song two nights running. Instead, they reinvented the song, taking it in new and unexpected directions. That’s the case on The Complete BBC Sessions where some songs feature two or three times. This allows listeners to compare and contrast songs, as Led Zeppelin improvise and reinvent familiar songs. This they continued to do throughout their career. Sadly, only the first three years of Led Zeppelin’s career was documented by the BBC.
It’s just shame that relations between Led Zeppelin and the BBC became strained, as it would’ve been interesting if they had documented the band’s career. Alas, that wasn’t the case. At least, the BBC documented Led Zeppelin’s formative years between 1969 and 1971.
The rise and rise of Led Zeppelin came almost overnight. Suddenly, they were one of the most successful bands of the late sixties and early seventies. Led Zeppelin’s brand of blues and rock had transformed the lives of Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones. In the space of just two years, Led Zeppelin became one of the biggest bands in planet rock. The rise and rise of Led Zeppelin is documented on The Complete BBC Sessions.
LED ZEPPELIN-THE COMPLETE BBC SESSIONS.
MANUEL GOTTSCHING-INVENTIONS FOR ELECTRIC GUITAR.
When Manuel Göttsching released Inventions For Electric Guitar in 1975, it was regarded as a new chapter in his career. Inventions For Electric Guitar was Manuel Göttsching’s debut solo album, and first album post Ash Ra Tempel album. Or was it?
Eagle eyed record buyers having bought Inventions For Electric Guitar saw atop the album cover the words Ash Ra Tempel VI in small print. This muddied the waters somewhat. What was Inventions For Electric Guitar? Was it Ash Ra Tempel’s swan-song, or Manuel Göttsching’s debut album? Record buyers were confused.
They were under the impression that Ash Ra Tempel Starring Rosi, was the band’s fifth and final album. It had been released in 1973, and by then, Ash Ra Tempel comprised just Manuel Göttsching. He was the last man last standing.
Nearly two years had passed before Inventions For Electric Guitar was released. Manuel Göttsching composed, played all the instruments and produced Inventions For Electric Guitar. It seemed undeniable that Inventions For Electric Guitar was a solo album. What good reason could the record company have for adding Ash Ra Tempel VI to the album cover?
Manuel Göttsching was signed to Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser and Gille Lettmann’s Ohr Records. They realised that Inventions For Electric Guitar was the start of a new chapter in Manuel Göttsching’s career. He was keen to embark upon a solo career. What worried Ohr Records, was that many record buyers wouldn’t recognise Manuel Göttsching. That was despite playing a huge part in five albums Ash Ra Tempel’s released between 1971 and 1973. So Ohr Records had two options.
They could release Inventions For Electric Guitar as a solo album. That seems to be the case, given the prominence of Manuel Göttsching’s name. The addition of Ash Ra Tempel VI was part of Ohr Records’ marketing campaign. Ash Ra Tempel was already a relatively well known ‘brand name’ within German music. So if record buyers didn’t recognise Manuel Göttsching’s name, there was every chance they would recognise Ash Ra Tempel, and buy the album. That was one theory.
The other was to bill Inventions For Electric Guitar as an Ash Ra Tempel album. Hence the subtitle, Ash Ra Tempel VI. By adding Manuel Göttsching name to the album cover, Ohr Records were to all intents and purposes, paving the way for Manuel Göttsching’s solo career. That was the other theory put forward when Inventions For Electric Guitar was released in 1975. Nowadays, though, it seems that theory has been disproved.
Recently, Inventions For Electric Guitar has been reissued by MG Art. On Inventions For Electric Guitar’s album cover, there is no sign of the words that caused all that debate “Ash Ra Tempel VI.” They’ve been removed it seems, in accordance with Manuel Göttsching’s wishes. He always saw Inventions For Electric Guitar as his debut solo album. Ash Ra Tempel was in the past. Inventions For Electric Guitar was start of a new and exciting chapter for Manuel Göttsching, the solo years.
The solo years began with Inventions For Electric Guitar. Manuel Göttsching decided to return to the lengthy jams that had been a feature of Ash Ra Tempel’s first four albums. From 1971s Ash Ra Tempel through 1972s Schwingungen, Seven Up and 1973s Join Inn, lengthy jams were the order of the day. This changed on Ash Ra Tempel fifth album, Ash Ra Tempel Starring Rosi. It found Ash Ra Tempel dispense with the lengthy jams and adopt a tighter, more traditional song structure. For his debut solo album, Inventions For Electric Guitar, Manuel Göttsching decided to combine the two approaches.
When Manuel Göttsching began work on his debut solo album, Inventions For Electric Guitar he decided that composition would play a much more important role than on Ash Ra Tempel’s first four albums. Using this new approach, he wrote three pieces, Echo Waves, Quasarsphere and Pluralis. They lengthy soundscapes became Inventions For Electric Guitar. When it came to record Inventions For Electric Guitars, Manuel Göttsching deployed his ‘secret weapons’ to create his new sound.
Having decided on how to approach his debut solo album, Manuel Göttsching headed to Studio Roma, in Berlin in July 1974. That was where Manuel Göttsching would record Inventions For Electric Guitar. He took with him his electric guitar, a Hawaiian steel bar and some of his secret weapons. These were Manuel’s various effects pedals, which included a Revox A77 for echoes, a WahWah pedal, volume pedal and a Schaller Rotosound effects pedal. To record Inventions For Electric Guitar, Manuel used a four track TEAC A3340. Recording of his debut album brought out the perfectionist in Manuel Göttsching.
Throughout July and August of 1974, Manuel Göttsching recorded three lengthy improvised tracks, Echo Waves, Quasarsphere and Pluralis. Gradually, they began to take shape. However, Manuel Göttsching wasn’t willing to accept second best, so constantly honed the three soundscapes. Eventually, after the best part of two months, Inventions For Electric Guitar was complete. Manuel Göttsching had composed, played all the instruments and produced Inventions For Electric Guitar. All that remained was for the album to be mixed.
With Inventions For Electric Guitar recorded, Studio Roma’s recording engineer Heiner Friesz and Manuel Göttsching began mixing the album. Ohr Records didn’t just want the album mixed in stereo. Instead, they also wanted a quadraphonic mix. This invoked a journey to Dierks Studios in Cologne, where the quadro-mixing took place. Ironically, despite the time, effort and expense, quadraphonic sound never took off. That was a great shame, as Inventions For Electric Guitar was an album perfectly suited to quadraphonic sound. Inventions For Electric Guitar is also a truly timeless debut album from Manuel Göttsching.
Echo Waves opens Inventions For Electric Guitar and is a near eighteen minute epic. Straight away, Manuel Göttsching fingers fly up and down the fretboard as he plucks notes and deploys his trusty effects pedals. Waves of choppy, crystalline guitars assail and surround the listener. Meanwhile, a myriad of beeps and squeaks are panned hard left. They come courtesy of the effects laden guitars. There’s no let up. Neither is there space within the music. Its relentless, as the arrangement is powered along. That’s despite the absence of the drums.
When most people will expect the drums to enter, they don’t. That doesn’t matter. Some of the guitars are played with power and precision, and provide a perfect, if unlikely replacement. By then, the lysergic arrangement is being panned and it surrounds the listener. It must have sounded glorious in quadraphonic sound. Still a vortex of guitars continue to assail and surround the listener. Effects transform their sound, thickening the guitars and adding depth. Other times, they cheep and beep, as if auditioning for an Acid House single. Throughout Echo Waves, repetition is key. Patterns appear, only to disappear and reappear. Later, though, it’s all change, with the arrangement taking on a thicker, darker sound. The wah wah and echo pedals are put to good use, as waves of music echo and reverberate as Manuel Göttsching showcases his considerable skills. In musical terms, he’s a master craftsmen as he unleashes a virtuoso performance. This includes latterly, a much more rocky sound, where blistering, searing and screaming guitars drive the arrangement to it’s memorable and majestic crescendo
Quasarsphere has a much more understated, melancholy and ambient sound. Guitars almost weep, as the ethereal soundscape meanders along. This allows the listener to ruminate in the minimalist backdrop. Here, less is more, as a drone accompanies the weeping guitars. By then, there’s a classical influence to a soundscape where elements of ambient and Berlin School combine to create a beautiful, melancholy and ruminative soundscape, that showcases another side to Manuel Göttsching.
Pluralis is a twenty-two minute Magnus Opus that closes Inventions For Electric Guitar. Straight away, chirpy, choppy guitars creates a repetitive pattern. It’s repeated, and takes on a mesmeric, hypnotic sound. Meanwhile, washes and vortexes of ethereal music escape from the arrangement, adding a contrast. These ethereal and celestial washes of music are joined by crystalline, chiming guitars. Still, the hypnotic backdrop provides the heartbeat. Again, repetition is key, but familiarity doesn’t breed contempt. Far from it. The ethereal, celestial sounds dance atop the arrangement, while chiming, crystalline guitars add another layer of music. There’s very little change in tempo increases slightly, apart from when the music becomes slightly choppy. By then, what many people would mistake for lush strings have been added. It’s not. Instead, it’s the guitars, as things start to change.
At 11.03 flamboyant flourishes of guitar take centre-stage. The hypnotic backdrop is reigned in, and plays softly in the distance. Meanwhile, the guitar is caressed as the dreamy arrangement meanders along. Manuel Göttsching plays with speed and a flamboyance, adding flourishes of guitar. In the background, washes of guitar float along as the tempo drops and panning is used effectively. One minute the arrangement is panned hard right, the next it’s sneaked behind the listener and is panned right. Still the hypnotic backdrop plays an crucial part in the soundscape, as space invader sounds are unleashed. Gradually though, a rocky sound emerges from the soundscape. A blistering guitar solo is unleashed, and is played with speed, precision and power. Filters mask the guitar, while panning is used heavily, as Manuel Göttsching delivers another effects laden virtuoso solo. When the guitar solo drops out, the soundscape chugs and skips hypnotically along, as Manuel Göttsching reaches new heights of inventiveness on Inventions For Electric Guitar.
After three soundscapes lasting just forty-seven minutes, Manuel Göttsching’s 1975 debut solo album Inventions For Electric Guitar draws to a close. It was an album that was way ahead of its time, and nowadays, is regarded as a timeless, genre-melting classic.
Manuel Göttsching combined elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, Krautrock, psychedelia and rock on Inventions For Electric Guitar. The result was an inventive and innovative album. Inventions For Electric Guitar features music that’s variously beautiful, ethereal, hypnotic, lysergic melancholy, mesmeric and rocky. What’s remarkable about Inventions For Electric Guitar, is that it was recorded by just one man, Manuel Göttsching.
He became a one man band, deploying his guitars and a myriad of effects to record multilayered soundscapes. They sounded as if they had been recorded by a number of musicians and instruments. That wasn’t the case. Instead, it was the work of Manuel Göttsching, one of the most inventive and innovative musicians of his generation. Inventions For Electric Guitar might have been his debut solo album, but Manuel Göttsching had been releasing innovative music since 1971.
That was when Ash Ra Tempel released their eponymous debut album. The five albums they released between 1971 Join Inn feature groundbreaking music. For anyone interested in Krautrock, these five albums deserve a place in any self respecting music collection. So does Inventions For Electric Guitar, which marks the start of a new era for musical pioneer Manuel Göttsching. He was well on his way to becoming one of the most innovative, inventive and influential German musicians of his generation. Continually, Manuel Göttsching reinvented himself and his music.
A year later, Manuel Göttsching released a new album under the Ashra moniker. New Age Of Earth showed that Manuel Göttsching was determined not to stand still. This determination to reinvent himself musically, ensured that Manuel Göttsching’s music continued to be relevant and ahead of the musical curve.
That was the case in 1975, when Manuel Göttsching embarked upon his solo career. After two months in the studio, he released Inventions For Electric Guitar, which is a timeless classic from the virtuoso guitarist and musical magician, Manuel Göttsching.
MANUEL GOTTSCHING-INVENTIONS FOR ELECTRIC GUITAR.
Lau are, without doubt, one of the most exciting and ambitious folk bands of their generation. They’ve been described as “modern folk’s most innovative band,” and have been winning awards, praise and plaudits since the release of their debut album Lightweights and Gentlemen in 2007. Since then, Lau have released four further albums, including their most recent album The Bell That Never Rang in 2015. However, when Kris Drever, Martin Green and Aidan O’Rourke are neither touring nor recording, they work on other projects.
That’s been the case since the early days of Lau. In their downtime, the three members have worked on other projects. Despite these other projects, they’ve always returned to Lau, which the three members fondly describe as “the mothership.” The latest band member to leave “the mothership” was accordionist and electronics guru, Martin Green.
He was a man on a mission. Martin Green was about to record his much anticipated sophomore album, Flit. It will be released on Reveal Records, and is the followup to Martin’s critically acclaimed debut album Crow’s Bones, which was released in April 2014.
Crow’s Bones found Martin Green accompanied by an all-star cast of musicians. This included Becky Unthank, Inge Thomson Niklas Roswall and Portishead’s Adrian Utley. They played a part in the sound and and success of Crow’s Bones. Now just over two years later, and Martin Green returns with the much anticipated followup album to Crow’s Bones.
After the release of Crow’s Bones in April 2014, Martin Green returned to “the mothership.” Now, Lau could begin working on their fifth album, which eventually, became The Bell That Never Rang.
The three members of Lau began writing their fifth album. Once the album was written, Lau headed to their studio of choice, Castlesound Studios, in Edinburgh. That was where Lau were joined by Joan Wasser, who had been brought onboard to produce the album. When the album was complete, it became The Bell That Never Rang, which was released in early summer of 2015.
Critical acclaim accompanied the release of The Bell That Never Rang, in May 2015. There was no doubt that Lau were “modern folk’s most innovative band.” They had released the best album of their career. All that was left, was for Lau to tour The Bell That Never Rang. Then the band could enjoy some much needed downtime.
After a gruelling tour, many musicians would head off and enjoy a much needed a lengthy break. Not Martin Green. His thoughts soon turned to his sophomore solo album. Martin had had released his debut in Crow’s Bones in April 2014. With some free time, this was the perfect opportunity to record his sophomore album.
So, Martin Green began planning what would eventually become Flit. Gradually, the album began to take shape. Martin wanted to record an album the documented stories of “human movement around the world.” To write, record and tell these stories, Martin enlisted the help of some of his many musical friends.
This includes some of the biggest names in Scottish music. Mogwai’s Dominic Aitchison joined the inimitable Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap; Fife based folksinger Karine Polwart and singer songwriter Adam Holmes . They’re joined by American singer-songwriter Anaïs Mitchell; Betty Unthanks of The Unthanks and Portishead’s Adrian Utley. Together, this multitalented, all-star cast of singers, songwriter and musicians joined Martin Green to write and record his much anticipated sophomore album, Flit.
Having explained the the concept of Flit, which was “human movement around the world,” Martin Green and Friends began work on the album. Eventually, a total of nine songs were written some talented songwriters. Martin wrote Clang Song and Smallest Plant. He cowrote Strange Sky, Wrackline, The Suitcase and Laws Of Motion with Karine Polwart. Martin wrote the lyrics to the other three songs, while Aidan Moffat penned the lyrics to The Living Wind; Anaïs Mitchell added the lyrics Roll Away and Sandy Wright was responsible for the lyrics to The Singing Sands. With the songs complete, recording began.
Recording took place at 245 Studios, in Bristol, where Martin Green and Adrian Utley took charge of production while T.J. Allen was the enginner. During the sessions,Martin Green played accordion, mellotron, synths and was involved with sampling. Meanwhile, Mogwai’s Dominic Aitchison laid down the bass lines. Adrian Utley switched between acoustic and electric guitar to bass, percussion and synths. Corrina Hewat was drafted in to add harp. This left just the vocals to be recorded by Adam Holmes, Betty Unthanks, Aidan Moffat and John Smith. Gradually, the album began to shape. Later, addition recording sessions took place at Chapel Studios. Eventually, the recording sessions were over. This left just mixing and mastering.
Flit was mixed by Martin Green, T.J. Allen and Adrian Utley. With the album mixed, Flit was mastered at Optimum Mastering. Now that the album was recorded, Martin Green sophomore solo album was ready for release.
Before that, Flit with its theme of “human movement around the world,” was premiered at the Edinburgh International Festival. Flit was well received by critics. Buoyed by the critical acclaim Flit had received at its Edinburgh premiere, Reveal Records scheduled the release of Flit for the 7th of October 2016. Martin Green’s much anticipated sophomore album Flit, you’ll soon realise, is a powerful musical document.
The Living Wind opens Flit. The arrangement squeaks and chirps before the buzzing bass synth enters. It dominates the arrangement until Aidan Moffat delivers an emotive soliloquy. He remembers and reflects upon what happened. “They fled in fear when we flew into town…our legion crew silenced them, drowned out their prayers, eventually we passed, they didn’t understand we didn’t speak their language.” Soon, though, he’s trying to justify his actions: “we were hungry, they were hungrier.” Later, when the vocal drops out, the arrangement takes on a cinematic sound, as mesmeric, chirping guitars combine with synths.” When the vocal returns, Aidan remembers when those who fled from him, came seeking revenge and retribution. “They brought fury and fire.” Suddenly, the hunter is the hunted. Those that survive, are forced to flea for their lives, and become displaced and traumatised. It’s a chilling and powerful soliloquy, where Aidan brings the lyrics to life against a slow, atmospheric and cinematic arrangement.
Atmospheric, dark and moody describes the introduction to Strange Sky. The arrangement reverberates, as a wash of synths combines with understated, metallic drums and what sounds like the sound of traffic. They provide a hypnotic backdrop to Becky’ Unthank’s vocal. Her vocal sounds bereft of emotion, as if she’s tired of being displaced and finding herself: “under a Strange Sky.” Meanwhile, the arrangement sounds as if it’s portraying a journey. Is she being smuggled across a border? A bass, guitars and drums combine. Later, the drama combines as the arrangement roars, buzzes and beeps, heading in the direction of post rock. By then, the vocal grows in power and emotion. When it drops out, strings sweep wistfully, adding to the sense of sadness and desperation.
Becky returns in Wrackline, where just percussion, piano and bass combine with her melancholy vocal. Effects are added to her vocal, giving it a lysergic hue as she sings: “washed up on the shore.” Soon, though, the effects disappear, as Becky’s vocal becomes crystal clear. She reminisces about what’s: “washed up on the shore.” Before long, effects are added to the vocal, and a blistering, choppy guitar and bass cuts through the arrangement. It’s joined by a piano and percussion which add to the drama, as the arrangement begins to meander moodily along. That’s until the arrangement explodes and Becky’s vocal becomes ethereal. Later, it becomes understated and almost a lament, as she stands by the Wrackline and promises to: “cherish the child of the sailor whose not coming home.” It’s a truly moving song that’s tinged with sadness.
Notes are picked out on a piano on Roll Away, before a guitar accompanied Adam Holmes’ tender vocal. Against this understated backdrop, he paints pictures with his heartfelt vocal. It grows in power and emotion as he sings of: “railway lines and ocean liners, it never will be a home to any, sail away, Roll Away.” There’s a sadness in Adam’s voice as he realises this. Later, when after “seven years I left you lonely, railway lines and ocean lines, if I come back home would you even know me?” Sadness fills his voice as he realises he’s far from home, lonely and lost his true love, for the “jaunt” he took seven years ago. Roll Away is a truly beautiful song, and without doubt, the best on Flit.
The Suitcase marks the return of Aidan Moffat, who delivers another soliloquy on this song of two parts. During the first part, Aidan remembers: “my dad always kept a packed suitcase in the hall.” Suddenly, Aidan is remembering a proud, quiet, fair, hard working and complex man. He was: “driven to protect and survive…he strove to prepare us all for the future, long signed, very aware you can only really rely on yourself.” Behind him, the arrangement is almost incidental. Just shakers and subtle keyboards provide a backdrop. That’s until 1.59 when Becky’s vocal enters.
By then, the arrangement has taken on a dark, ominous sound. Soon, Becky sings: “The Suitcase in the lobby is always packed and ready…the only thing you need to know is when it’s time to go. The train leaves in the station, each coach is lined with silver and gold, and in his dream, everyone grows old.” Later Becky is joined by Adam and they share the vocal duties. Sometimes, a chiming guitar is added and Karine adds ethereal harmonies. Always, the song is cinematic, right up to the closing line, when Becky sings: “The Suitcase in the lobby is always packed and ready.” It’s a memorable, cinematic song that’s rich in imagery, thanks to Becky’s vocal and Karine Polwart’s carefully crafted lyrics.
Layers of synths meander, producing an otherworldly backdrop on Laws of Motion. Providing a contrast are the guitar which accompanies Adam’s vocal. He becomes a storyteller, and paints pictures with the lyrics. They come to life. So much so, that the scenes become very real. Still, synths provide a backdrop. They provide an atmospheric backdrop when his vocal drops out. Later, when his vocal returns Becky accompanies him. His vocal grows in power, as synths buzz and reverberate. Together, they play their part in what’s a powerful and poignant song.
Clang Song is akin to a post rock soundscape. Synths are to the fore, as they buzz, beep and squeak. Sometimes, they fire off a round of scratchy sounds. Then they grind, beep, squeak and buzz, as if sending out a code. Other times, it’s like some industrial symphony, where the music is dark, ominous and moody. Later, the arrangement is transformed, and becomes melodic, hopeful and dreamy. These are two sides of a captivating soundscape.
Martin Green’s accordion plays slowly on Smallest Plant, creating a melancholy sounding arrangement. Soon, though, it’s all change. As a beat is tapped out, the a bass anchors the arrangement. Meanwhile, a crystalline guitar plays. Effects are deployed, adding a choppy backdrop. This doesn’t affect Adam and Becky’s vocals, as they become one. Still, the arrangement grinds, as just the bass and guitar remain. They briefly replace the heartfelt vocals. When they return, they’re joined by a guitar. This allows the vocals to take centre-stage, on this moving ballad.
Closing Flit, is The Singing Sands. As is often the case, it’s a case of keeping one of the best until last. Against an understated arrangement, where a chiming, chirping guitar accompanies Adam delivers a soul-baring vocal. This impassioned and hurt filled vocal, is reminiscent of Sting on his early solo albums. That’s how good Adam Holmes’ vocal is. Let’s hope we hear more from Adam Holmes and Martin Green very soon.
Thirty months after the release of his debut solo album Crow’s Bones, Martin Green will returned with his sophomore album Flit. It will be released on Reveal Records on the 7th October 2016, and is without doubt, well worth the wait.
To record Flit, Martin Green brought onboard some of his musical friends. This included Karine Polwart who cowrote four of the nine songs. Among the other collaborators were the inimitable Aidan Moffat, who wrote the lyrics to The Living Wind and contributes soliloquies on two songs. Then there’s Mogwai bassist Dominic Aitchison, who plays a part in the post rock sound of a couple of tracks. Adrian Utley of Portishead played on, co-produced and helped mix Flit. He helps craft arrangements that are atmospheric, dark, moody and sometimes, ominous. They prove the perfect backdrop for the vocals.
On Flit, most of the vocals come courtesy of Adam Holmes and Betty Unthanks. They breath meaning and emotion into the lyrics. These songs document “human movement around the world.” Some of the songs on Flit are tinged with sadness, despair and disappointment. Others document suffering and tragedy. Adam Holmes and Betty Unthanks. bring these songs to life. Sometimes, they sound as if they’ve lived and survived the lyrics. Other times, it’s as if Adam and Betty are determined to highlight other people’s plight and suffering. These vocals play an important part in the sound and success of Flit, a genre-melting album.
During Flit, Martin Green and his friends combine elements of traditional folk, with folk rock, electronica and rock. To this, elements of avant-garde, post rock and psychedelia. Sometimes, one genre is to the fore. Mostly, though, several genres melt into one musical genres on Flit, Martin Green’s much-anticipated sophomore album.
Flit was recorded during Martin Green’s recent departure from “the mothership.” This is something that the three members of Lau having been doing since the early days of the band. This time around, though, Martin Green with a little help from his friends, has recorded a career defining album, that will set the bar high for future solo albums.
THE WELCOME RETURN OF BOB LIND.
Bob Lind, it’s fair to say, is a many of many talents. He started life as a singer-songwriter in 1965, and helped define the folk rock genre. His debut single Elusive Butterfly gave Bob a hit single on both sides of the Atlantic in 1966. Five years and four albums later, Bob Lind turned his back on music.
By then, Bob Lind had gained a reputation as difficult to work with. That wasn’t all. Bob was battling drug and alcohol addiction. Things weren’t looking good for Bob. It looked as if Bob’s life was spiralling out of control. However, Bob Lind was a survivor.
Through sheer strength of character and sheer determination, Bob Lind overcame his addictions. He rebuilt his life and reinvented himself as a journalist and author. Bob Lind was back. Then in 2004, a friend encouraged Bob to make play live. Since then, Bob has been playing live and earlier in 2016, recorded a new album Magellan Was Wrong. The welcome return of Bob Lind was complete. For the seventy-three year old, this was just the latest chapter in the Bob Lind story.
It began in Baltimore, Maryland on November 25th 1942. That was where Bob Lind was born and developed a love of music. Soon, he began to play guitar. Later, Bob embarked upon a career as musician.
Don’t Be Concerned.
By 1965, Bob Lind was twenty-three and had just signed to World Pacific Records, an imprint of Liberty Records. It was an exciting time for him. He had just signed his first recording contracted and was about to record his debut album, Don’t Be Concerned.
For some time, Bob Lind had been writing songs, which featured in his live sets. These songs showcased a truly talented songwriter. Already, Bob had a way with words. Elusive Butterfly, You Should Have Seen It, Drifter’s Sunrise, The World Is Just A “B” Movie and It Wasn’t Just The Morning were proof of this. They were among the twelve songs that would feature on Don’t Be Concerned.
When it came to record Don’t Be Concerned, Bob Lind was paired with Jack Nitzsche. He was already an experienced producer, who had worked with a wide range of artists. Jack Nitzsche arrange and produce Don’t Be Concerned, which when it was completed, was scheduled for release in early 1966.
Before the release of Don’t Be Concerned, Elusive Butterfly was released as a single. It reached number five in the US Billboard 200 and the UK charts. For Bob Lind, this was a dream start to his career. Things however, would get even better.
Don’t Be Concerned was released to widespread critical acclaim. Critics were impressed by an album of carefully crafted songs, from a singer who they regarded as a rising star of folk. Bob Lind critics believed, would play an important part in folk music’s future. These were wise words, with Bob Lind playing an important part in defining folk rock. With critically acclaimed reviews and a hit single to his name, Bob Lind’s star was in the ascendancy.
When Don’t Be Concerned was released in 1966, it reached 148 in the US Billboard 200. This was regarded as a success. For a new artist, in the folk rock genre, where most albums didn’t sell in the same quantities as those by pop and rock artists, this was regarded as a success. So World Pacific Records decided to build upon this success and sent Bob back into the studio.
Photographs Of Feeling.
It was decided that Bob Lind should return to the recording studio, and record his sophomore album Photographs Of Feeling. World Pacific Records realised the importance of momentum, and wanted another album from Bob. So he began work on his sophomore album, Photographs Of Feeling.
For Photographs Of Feeling, Bob Lind wrote the ten songs. Jack Nitzsche returned to arrange and produce Don’t Be Concerned. It would released in April 1966.
Before that, critics had their say on Photographs Of Feelings. Just like Don’t Be Concerned, critics were won over by Photographs Of Feelings. It received plaudits and praise, who saw Bob Lind as an artist who was reinventing folk music, with the new folk rock sound. This was beginning to grow in popularity.
Despite this, when Remember The Rain was released as a single, but reached just number forty-six in the US Billboard 100 and sixty-four in the UK. Compared to the transatlantic top ten hit Elusive Butterfly, this was have disappointing. So must have been Photographs Of Feeling failing to chart. Despite the positive reviews, of Photographs Of Feeling it never came close to troubling the charts. Despite this, a third Bob Lind album was released in 1966.
The Elusive Bob Lind,
After releasing two albums for World Pacific Records, Bob Lind released his third album on the Verve Folkways label. It had been founded in 1965, as a partnership between Verve Records and Moses Asch’s Folkways Records. Signing Bob Lind, a pioneer and rising star of the folk rock scene, was something of a coup. So was releasing his third album, The Elusive Bob Lind.
For The Elusive Bob Lind, eleven songs were chosen. They were mostly Bob Lind compositions, which were augmented by cover versions. This included Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A Changing and the traditional song Hey Nellie Nellie. These songs were recorded with a new producer and became The Elusive Bob Lind.
This time around, there was no sign of Jack Nitzsche, who had arranged and produced Bob’s first two album. Verve Folkways brought Pete Spargo onboard. He was a relatively new producer. His production career began in the early sixties, and since then, he had produced Willie Bobo, The Guitar Kings and Hugo Montenegro and His Orchestra. Bob Lind was the latest addition to what would eventually be a lengthy list of production credits. With Pete Spargo manning the board, Bob soon had his third album recorded.
Now Verve Folkways began preparing for the release of The Elusive Bob Lind. Copies were sent to critics. They were fulsome in their praise of the album. Especially, Bob Lind’s songwriting skills, his unique vocal and how he could breath life, meaning and emotion into a song. Bob who had been one of the pioneers of folk rock, critics remarked, was continuing to redefine the genre with another album of influential music. It was released later in 1966.
Despite the praise, The Elusive Bob Lind received, the album failed to chart. With two albums consecutive albums failing to chart, it was a worrying time for Bob Lind. Maybe, his single would get his ailing career back on track?
There was a problem though. With Bob Lind’s last two albums had been released on different labels, they were essentially competing against each other. Five singles were released between April and October 1966.
World Pacific Record released I Just Let It Take Me as second single from, Photographs Of Feeling later in June 1966. It stalled at 123 in the US Billboard 100. For Bob Lind, it was a case of close but no cigar. Especially when San Francisco Woman, was released as the third and final single from Photographs Of Feeling. However, when it was released in August 1966, it reached just 135 in the US Billboard 100. Bob Lind it seemed, was out of luck.
Despite this, Verve Folkways Records decided to release White Snow from The Elusive Bob Lind. This was just the second single released from the album. It was released in October 1966, but failed to trouble the charts. After four consecutive singles failing to chart in the US Billboard 100. Bob Lind must have been wondering about his immediate future?
After the roller coaster year that was 1966, Bob Lind continued to play live. He was still a popular draw, and had been since the earliest days of his career.Then in the spring of 1967, Bob Lind returned to the studio. This time, he only recorded two singles. Maybe World Pacific Records were being cautious, and wanted to gauge the success these singles? The first single, It’s Just My Love was released in April 1967, but failed to chart. Eight months later, Goodbye Neon Lies was released in 1967, but failed to chart. Little did anyone realise that Goodbye Neon Lies was Bob Lind’s World Pacific Records’ swan-song?
By 1969, Bob Lind, like many singers and musicians had developed a taste for the rock ’n’ roll lifestyle. He battled drug and alcohol addiction. To make matters worse, Bob Lind was regarded as difficult to work with. That was the case with many artists. However, if they delivered the goods, then record companies saw as the cost of doing business with an artist. Sadly, by 1969, Bob Lind had neither released a single for two years, nor an album for three. There was no sign of any music on the horizon. Despite this, very few people would’ve forecast that Bob Lind would decided to walk away from his contract with World Pacific Records in 1969.
Having severed his ties from World Pacific Records, very little was heard of Bob Lind. While he still played live, he never released any music between 1967 and 1971. That was when Bob Lind resurfaced, and signed a contract with Capitol Records.
Since There Were Circles.
Not long after this, Bob Lind entered the studio for the first time in four years. He had written eleven new songs which would become Since There Were Circles. They would be recorded in Los Angeles.
Capitol Records had booked the Record Plant in L.A. for Bob Lind. Producing Since There Were Circles was Doug Weston. He was joined by a tight, talented and experienced band that included ex Byrd Gene Clark. They accompanied Bob as he worked his way through an electric album. It veered between folk rock, Americana, country and even a hint of pop. Since There Were Circles was an album that should’ve appealed to a wide range of record buyers.
With Since There Were Circles complete, Capitol Records scheduled the release of Bob Lind’s comeback album for later in 1971. Capitol Records sprang into action, and began promoting the album. The only concern was, that it had been five years since Bob Lind had released an album. That was a long time in music, where record buyers often, have short memories. At least, though, Bob Lind had been playing live during that period. So he wasn’t quite The Elusive Bob Lind.
Critics certainly hadn’t forgotten Bob Lind. They welcomed the return of Bob Lind, and hailed Since There Were Circles a welcome return to form. Accompanied by some of the top session musicians of the early seventies, critics were impressed by one of Bob Lind’s finest albums. Would record buyers agree?
Capitol Records released She Can Get Along in 1971. It was Bob Lind’s first single in four years single. Alas, She Can Get Along failed to chart. This didn’t augur well for the release of Since There Were Circles. It also failed to chart, and this marked the end of Bob Lind’s time at Capitol Records.
Not long after leaving Capitol Records, Bob Lind turned his back on music. Bob Lind wasn’t the first, and certainly wouldn’t the last to walk away from music.
During the wilderness years, Bob Lind befriended writer Charles Bukowski. They struck up a close friendship. So much so, that Charles Bukowski immortalised the singer-songwriter in his 1978 book Women. Bob Lind was the inspiration for the character Dinky Summers, who would regularly reappear in Charles Bukowski’s work. Ten years after Women was published, Bob Lind became a writer.
Bob Lind decided in 1988 to follow the sun, and headed to Florida. That was where he embarked upon a new career, as a writer. The move to Florida, and career change proved successful. Not only did Bob Lind write five novels, but a stage play and the award winning screenplay Refuge. It went on to win the prestigious Florida Screenwriters’ Competition in 1991. This must have been the pinnacle of Bob Lind’s career as a writer.
Later in his writing career, Bob Lind spent eight years as a staff writer at the supermarket tabloids Weekly World News and The Sun. This was very different from writing novels, screenplays or a stage play. The content was marketed as satirical and sensationalist, but often fell foul of the privacy laws. For Bob Lind, this must have seemed like a far cry from his days as a musician? Maybe Bob Lind would even consider a comeback?
Thirty-three years after turning his back on music in 1971, Bob Lind had a change of heart in 2004. He was persuaded folk singer Arlo Guthrie, the son of Woody Guthrie, to make a comeback. The venue that was chosen was the Guthrie Center in Becket, Massachusetts.
That night, Bob Lind’s love of playing live was rekindled. Soon, the sixty-two year old and Arlo Guthrie were heading out on tour. Since then, they’ve continued to tour. Bob Lind was back.
Later in 2006, Bob Lind self-released his first live album Live At The Luna Star Cafe It featured the first new material Bob Lind had released since 1971. This was just the start of Bob Lind’s comeback.
In 2007, a compilation of Bob Lind’s World Pacific Records’ recording was released. This was Elusive Butterfly: The Complete 1966 Jack Nitzsche Session. Suddenly, a whole new audience were discovering Bob Lind’s music.
Over the next few years, interest in Bob Lind’s music began to grow. However, within the music industry, many artists and groups were familiar with Bob Lind’s songs, and had covered them. This included luminaries like Eric Clapton, Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Aretha Franklin and The Four Tops. They’re just a few of the artists who have covered Bob Lind’s music, and helped spread the word about one of music’s best kept secrets.
With Bob Lind’s profile rising, cinematographer Paul Surratt finished a DVD about Bob Lind. It was a documentary, which also featured Bob Lind in concert. Bob Lind: Perspective was released in 2009, and introduced the singer-songwriter to a wider audience. However, there was still one thing Bob Lind hadn’t done since his comeback, release a new album.
Finding You Again.
Bob Lind decided to rectify this in 2012. He returned to the studio with The Spongetones’ guitarist Jamie Hoover, and recorded thirteen Bob Lind compositions. Jamie Hoover produced what would become Bob Lind’s first album since 1971s Since There Were Circles.
Forty-one years later, Finding You Again was released on Big Beat Records, a subsidiary of Ace Records. Finding You Again was released to critical acclaim, and marked a welcome return to form from the seventy year old folk-rock pioneer. Now that Bob Lind had found his audience again, the big question was, when would there be followup to Finding You Again?
Magellan Was Wrong.
Four years later, and Bob Lind returned with the much anticipated followup to Finding You Again,Magellan Was Wrong. It featured Bob Lind eleven new Bob Lind songs and a cover Tom Paxton’s Bottle Of Wine. These songs were arranged and produced by Jamie Hoover.
When it came to record Magellan Was Wrong, Jamie Hoover played many of the instruments on Magellan Was Wrong. Bob Lind played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, 12-string guitar and adds synth horns and vocals. Augmenting Jamie Hoover and Bob Lind, were a few musicians who added overdubs in two studios in Fort Worth, Miami. Once album, were complete, the welcome return of Bob Lind was one step nearer.
Magellan Was Wrong was released earlier in 2016, and overwhelming critical acclaim. Bob Lind was the comeback King, having released the best album since he returned to music in 2004, Magellan Was Wrong. It’s a tantalising taste of what Bob Lind’s capable of.
On Magellan Was Wrong, Bob Lind’s lyrics were beautiful, celebratory, cerebral, poignant, reflective, rueful, thought-proving and wistful. Songs about love, love lost, returning heroes and the sands of time running dry, sit side-by-side with a cover Tom Paxton’s Bottle Of Wine. Often, the lyrics are also cinematic, vivid and rich in imagery, as Bob Lind unmistakable voice switches between musical genres. Bob Lind it seems, is just as comfortable singing folk and folk-rock as he is country, jazz or pop rock. Magellan Was Wrong is a welcome return to form from Bob Lind.
Belatedly, Bob Lind is making up for lost time. He turned his back on music 1971, and never to playing live until 2004. Despite that, Bob Lind wasn’t a forgotten man.
During that period, many artists and bands continued to cover Bob Lind’s songs. Over 200 artists, including some of the biggest names in music covered his songs. This includes everyone from Eric Clapton to Glen Campbell and Dolly Parton to The Four Tops and Petula Clark. These cover versions introduced many record buyers to Bob Lind’s music.
This was one way a whole new audience discovered Bob Lind. Other record buyers discovered one of Bob’s first four albums in second hand record shops. This was the start of a voyage of discovery.
Having discovered Bob Lind, soon the journey was complete. It was frustrating, as record collectors soon owned Bob’s entire discography. Many record collectors wanted to here more from one of music’s best kept secrets. If only, Bob Lind would hit the comeback trail.
Bob Lind was encouraged to make a comeback in 2004. Since then, Bob Lind’s career is enjoying an Indian Summer. This resulted in Bob getting a taste for playing live. He’s continued to play live since then, and this has resulted in a further resurgence in interest in Bob Lind’s music.
As a result, there’s been compilations of his music released, and some of Bob Lind’s albums have been reissued. Bob even released a live album. However, the one thing that had been missing from Bob Lind’s comeback was a studio album. He rectified this with Finding You Again in 2012. Four years later, and Bob Lind released one of the finest albums of his career, Magellan Is Wrong, earlier this year. By then, Bob Lind’s comeback was complete.
He had come a long way since he signed to Pacific World Records in 1965. He’s matured as a singer, songwriter and musician, and belatedly, is enjoying the commercial success and critical acclaim his talents deserved. However, one can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if Bob Lind hadn’t turned his back on music in 1971?
At least, this allowed Bob Lind to overcome his addiction to alcohol and drugs. This wasn’t easy, and took strength of character and sheer determination. Eventually, Bob Lind managed to overcame his addictions.
He went on to rebuild his life and reinvented himself as a journalist and award winning author. Eventually, though, Bob Lind returned to his first love music in 2004. Since then, a newly revitalised Bib Lind has been making up for lost time. Twelve years later, and seventy-three year old Bob Lind is still making music, and is receiving the critical acclaim his considerable talents so richly deserve. Long may the welcome return of Bob Lind continue.
THE WELCOME RETURN OF BOB LIND.
THE LLOYD COLE AND THE COMMOTIONS STORY, 1983-1989.
With Lloyd Cole about to hit these shores on the latest leg of his 2016 tour, this seems a perfect time to look back at the band he made his name with, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions. They were one of the finest purveyors of perfect pop during the eighties. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions released a trio of albums during a six year period, and became one of the most successful Scottish bands of the eighties. The Lloyd Cole and The Commotions story began in 1982, in Glasgow’s musical capita,l Glashow.
In 1982, Derby born Lloyd Cole was studying at the University of Glasgow. Twenty-one year old Lloyd Cole had moved to Glasgow to study philosophy and English. Previously, Lloyd had studied a year of law at University College London. Law wasn’t for Lloyd Cole, so he decided to head to Glasgow to restart his educational career. That’s where Lloyd Cole met The Commotions.
By 1982, Glasgow was like a second home to Lloyd Cole. He had embraced the city’s vibrant musical scene. However, in 1982, he decided to make the move from onlooker to participant. So, Lloyd decided to form his own band. That band became Lloyd Cole and The Commotions.
Having made the decision to form his own band, gradually, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ lineup took shape. Lloyd who would sing lead vocals and play guitar, brought onboard four musicians. They became his Commotions. This included the rhythm section of drummer Stephen Irvine, bassist Lawrence Donegan and guitarist Neil Clark. They were joined by keyboardist Blair Cowan. At last the lineup of Lloyd Cole and The Commotions was compete.
With the lineup complete, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions embarked upon their musical journey. This began when Lloyd Cole and The Commotions signed to Polydor Records, and began work on their debut single.
The Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ story started in earnest when the band released their debut single Perfect Skin in the spring of 1984. The single sold well, reaching number twenty-six in the UK charts. The follow up, Forest Fire, didn’t fare so well, only reaching a disappointing forty-one in the UK charts. That was only a minor blip. When Lloyd Cole and The Commotions released their debut album Rattlesnakes later in 1984, it was a huge success.
When Rattlesnakes was released later on 12th October 1984, it was to widespread critical acclaim and commercial success. Rattlesnakes reached number thirteen in the UK album charts, selling in over one-hundred thousand copies. For Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, this meant the first gold disc of their career. No wonder. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions were unique and caught the attention of critics and cerebral record buyers.
Critics and discerning music lovers were quick to release that Lloyd Cole and The Commotions were very different from most bands. Similarly, the songs on Rattlesnakes were unlike much of the music released in 1984. Lloyd Cole’s lyrics were influenced by Bob Dylan and his studies of English and philosophy. So it was no surprise that Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ songs referenced
Renata Adler, Simone de Beauvoir and Norman Mailer in their lyrics. This was articulate, catchy and cerebral pop. Not only did it win over critics and cultural commentators, but provided the soundtrack to thousands of student bedsits.
A generation of students eavesdropped on Lloyd’s anguished, quirky and cinematic lyrics. He brought songs like Perfect Skin, Rattlesnakes, Forest Fire, 2cv, Patience and Are You Ready To Be Heartbroken to life. With vocals that were a mixture of anguish, emotion and passion, Lloyd Cole lived the songs on Rattlesnakes. Behind him, The Commotions’ trademark jangling, perfect pop caught the imagination of generation of music lovers. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ star was in the ascendancy.
After the commercial success and critical acclaim of Rattlesnakes, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions headed out on tour. Basking in the success of Rattlesnakes, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions played to sold out audiences. They were flavour of the month with critics and cultural commentators. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had a reputation for producing music for the “thinking” music lover. It was the polar opposite of vacuous new romantic movement. At least, here was a group of substance, capable of making compelling cinematic songs. This would be the case with their sophomore album Easy Pieces.
When Lloyd Cole and The Commotions began work on Easy Pieces, they wanted the album to be much more “accessible.” Rattlesnakes had passed many people by. It was, onlookers, remarked too cerebral. Lloyd also wanted Easy Pieces’ “sound to be warmer, more luscious.” With this in mind, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions began work on Easy Pieces.
Just like Rattlesnakes, Lloyd penned five of Easy Pieces ten tracks. He cowrote the other tracks with other members of The Commotions. The title had been inspired by the film Five Easy Pieces. Lloyd later said that five of the tracks were inspired by Five Easy Pieces. When the songs were completed, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions eschewed Glasgow for London.
Westside Studios, Shepherds Bush, London were where Easy Pieces was recorded. This wasn’t exactly the most glamorous setting to record an album. However, that was the studio that was chosen. When the sessions began, gone was the laid-back sessions of Rattlesnakes. The pressure was on Lloyd Cole and The Commotions to replicate the success of Rattlesnakes. Polydor didn’t exactly help things when they dismissed producer Paul Hardiman. He hadn’t been given a chance. Maybe Polydor were just waiting to parachute their producer of choice in?
Replacing Paul Hardiman was the production team of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. Considering the sound and success of Rattlesnakes this was a risky move. If Polydor had just been patient, Paul Hardiman would’ve got the sessions back on track. However, that wasn’t to be. Now Lloyd Cole and The Commotions were working with a producer they hadn’t chosen. Especially as the new production team had their own sound; and weren’t shy about voicing their opinions and suggestions. The new production team even tried to tell Lloyd how to sing. This had the effect of making Lloyd self-conscious when he sang. So much for producers putting bands at ease. However, stuck with a production team they hadn’t chosen, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had to make the best of what was a bad situation. Eventually, Easy Pieces was completed and ready for release. However, the band weren’t happy.
For Lloyd Cole and The Commotions the Easy Pieces wasn’t a satisfactory experience. They felt they were forced to record Easy Pieces too soon. Lloyd also felt two songs on Easy Pieces shouldn’t have made the cut. He felt neither Grace nor Minor Character were good enough to make the album. The production team should’ve spotted this. However, they had been hired by the record company, with the job of getting the album finished and ready for release. Time was of the essence. Maybe this meant that there wasn’t time to write and record two more tracks? However, if this was the case, it could come back to bite them. The critics would spot two weak tracks.
Whilst Rattlesnakes was released to critical acclaim, Easy Pieces wasn’t as well received. The reviews were mixed. Critics felt some of the lyrics fell short of the quality of those on Rattlesnakes. The production didn’t impress some critics. They felt Easy Pieces was over produced. Another criticism was that there was no space for the music to breath. The major criticism was that the new production team took Lloyd Cole and The Commotions in the wrong direction. Easy Pieces was, some critics felt, a lengthy detour into country pop. That wasn’t what made Lloyd Cole and The Commotions such a special and unique band. With this criticism ringing in their ears, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions awaited the release of Easy Pieces with baited breath.
On 22nd November 1985, Easy Pieces was released, and reached number five in Britain. While Easy Pieces had a better chart position that Rattlesnakes, it sold less copies. There was no gold disc this time around. At least the singles faired reasonably well.
Three singles were released from Easy Pieces. Brand New Friend reached number nineteen in Britain. Then Lost Weekend surpassed Brand New Friend, reaching number seventeen in Britain. The only disappointment was Cut Me Down, which stalled at number thirty-eight in Britain. For Lloyd Cole and The Commotions this was a disappointment. That was the case with Easy Pieces.
Easy Pieces wasn’t the album they wanted to make. If they hadn’t been rushed into the studio to record Easy Pieces maybe, just maybe, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions would’ve been able to record an album that they would’ve been proud of. Lloyd Cole certainly wasn’t. He disowned some of the songs on Easy Pieces. That was the fault of Lloyd Cole and The Commotions. The blame lay at the door of Polydor, who had sacked Paul Hardiman and parachuted a production team who tried to transform Lloyd Cole and The Commotions into something they weren’t. Next time round would get it right…eventually. And there would be no sign of Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley.
Work began on Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ third album not long after the release of Easy Pieces. This time, Lloyd wrote eight of the ten tracks, and cowrote the other two. That was the easy bit. The hard bit was recording Mainstream.
Recording of Mainstream took the best part of two years. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ first choice for producer was Chris Thomas. The sessions began, but after a while the band realised that things weren’t working out. Remembering what happened with Easy Pieces, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions decided to bring onboard a new producer.
The replacement for Chris Thomas, was Stewart Copeland, the former Police drummer. Things started out well, when Hey Rusty was recorded. That however, was as good as it got. It was downhill after that. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions knew that they needed to replace Stewart Copeland.
Lloyd Cole and The Commotions wanted to make amends for Easy Pieces. They felt they had failed to make the pop album they set out to make. That wasn’t the case. Easy Pieces to the band sounded rushed and not the album they wanted to make. There was no way they were going to let history repeat itself. So out went Stewart Copeland and in came Ian Stanley. Maybe, it was a case of third time lucky?
With Ian Stanley onboard, Mainstream began to take shape. Eventually, nearly two years since recording of Mainstream began, the album was completed. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions spent five months in the studio with Ian Stanley. This came at a cost. Not only did Mainstream cost £300,000, ten times that Rattlesnakes cost, but cost the band their keyboard player.
By the time Mainstream was released on 26th October 1987, keyboardist Blair Cowan had left Lloyd Cole and The Commotions. The cracks were beginning to show. That’s not surprising given the difficulties surrounding the recording of Easy Pieces and Mainstream. However, hopefully, the time and money spent on Mainstream would be worthwhile.
Critics felt that wasn’t the case. Reviews of Mainstream were mixed. Some critics loved Mainstream, calling it intelligent pop music and the band’s most accomplished album. This wasn’t surprising, given the quality of songs like From The Hip, My Bag, Jennifer She Said and Mr. Malcontent. Other critics however, felt that Lloyd Cole and The Commotions hadn’t fulfilled their potential on Mainstream. The casting vote went to the record buying public.
On the release of Mainstream, it reached number nine in Britain. In America, Mainstream didn’t sell as well as Rattlesnakes and Easy Pieces. Both albums had sold over 100,000 copies. Not Mainstream. American critics weren’t as impressed with Mainstream. For Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, this was disappointing. However, some solace was the success of the singles.
Again, three singles were released from Mainstream. My Bag reached a lowly forty-six in Britain. In America, My Bag reached number thirteen in the Billboard Modern Rock chart and number forty-eight in the Billboard Dance chart. Jennifer She Said the reached number thirty-one in Britain. The final single from Mainstrea, was From The Hip. It reached a disappointing number fifty-nine in Britain. Little did anyone realise that From The Hip would be Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ final single, from their final album.
Already the cracks were showing when keyboardist Blair Cowan left. Nearly two years later, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and were no more. They split-up in 1989. The last album Lloyd Cole and The Commotions released was a greatest hits album, entitled 1948-1989. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had been together for seven years and enjoyed a recording career that lasted six years.
It’s twenty-six years since the four remaining members of Lloyd Cole and The Commotions went their separate ways. Looking back, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ debut album, Rattlesnakes, was the finest album of their career. They set the bar high, and never came close to surpassing the quality of Rattlesnakes.
Good as Easy Pieces and Mainstream are, neither are regarded as one of classic Scottish albums. Rattlesnakes was recorded when Lloyd Cole and The Commotions were unknown, and only cost £30,000. It’s not known how much Easy Pieces cost. However, Mainstream cost £300,000 and doesn’t come close to Rattlesnakes. Much of the reaspn for this, is the various problems with producers.
This problem began when Polydor sent Lloyd Cole and The Commotions into the studio too quickly. They then compounded this by sacking Paul Hardiman. If Paul had been given more time, he could’ve turned the situation around. Instead, Polydor brought in their own producers, Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley. For Lloyd Cole and The Commotions, working with a producer they hadn’t chosen wasn’t going to work. They took Lloyd Cole and The Commotions’ music in the wrong direction. As a result, Easy Pieces was nothing like the album Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had wanted to release. With these producer problems in mind, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had to act decisively when recording Mainstream.
Having initially hired Chris Thomas, when this working relationship didn’t work out, he was replaced by Stewart Copeland. After only one song, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions realised that Stewart Copeland was the wrong producer. It was only when Ian Stanley came onboard that Mainstream was completed. However, by then, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had lost sight of the album they wanted to make. Just like Easy Pieces, Mainstream wasn’t the album Lloyd Cole and The Commotions set out to make.
It seemed that after the potential Lloyd Cole and The Commotions showed on Rattlesnakes, they never truly fulfilled it on neither Easy Pieces nor Mainstream. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions had the potential to be one of the biggest and best groups of the eighties and beyond. However, looking back, some critics feel that Lloyd Cole and The Commotions never quite fulfilled their potential. Maybe that’s being hard on Lloyd Cole and The Commotions?
Instead, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions are another group whose debut album was a pop classic. Surpassing it was never going to be easy. Lloyd Cole and The Commotions set the bar high, and were forever chasing pop perfection. They came close on many occasions, That’s apparent on the three studio albums Lloyd Cole and The Commotions released. They’re a reminder of one of the greatest Scottish bands of their generation, Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and their all too brief recording career.
THE LLOYD COLE AND THE COMMOTIONS STORY, 1983-1989.
TERRY REID-THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER.
For many people, Terry Reid is music’s nearly man. He could’ve been the lead vocalist of two of the biggest rock bands in musical history. Sadly, that wasn’t to be, instead,Terry Reid decided to concentrate on his solo career.
He released six studio albums between 1968s Bang, Bang You’re Terry Reid and 1991s The Driver. Each of these albums were well received by critics. Despite this, none of these albums enjoyed the commercial success that Terry Reid’s considerable talents deserve. So in 1981, Terry Reid called time on his solo career. He was only thirty-seven. By then, he had released just five solo albums.
Without doubt, one of Terry Reid’s finest albums is River, which was released on Atlantic Records in 1973. River had been recorded by Terry and his band during lengthy sessions in London and Los Angeles. Seven tracks found their way on to River. That was only part of the story.
Ever since the release of River in 1973, rumours began to do the rounds about other tracks that had been recorded during the River sessions. Since then, these rumours have grown legs.
Some people however, weren’t convinced. Surely, if Terry Reid had recorded more songs during the River sessions they would’ve been released? Recently, the sceptics were proved wrong, when Light In The Attic Records released The Other Side Of The River, which features eleven track. They’re a mixture of new songs and alternate takes, and a reminder of one of British music’s most underrated singer, songwriter and musicians, Terry Reid, whose affectionately known as superlungs. His career began in 1965.
By then, Terry Reid was just sixteen. He had been born in Huntingdon, on 13th November 1949. Growing up, Terry attended St. Ivo School, St.Ives, Cambridgeshire. That was where he joined a local band, The Redbeats.
It was when platting with The Redbeats, that Peter Jay, the drummer from a rival group, Peter and The Jaywalkers first spotted Terry Reid in action. Straight away, he realised Terry would be the perfect addition to Peter and The Jaywalkers. Peter convinced Terry to join his band, and soon, Terry was a Jaywalker.
Soon, Peter and The Jaywalkers’ star was in the ascendancy, when they were named as the support act for the Rolling Stones, when they played at the Royal Albert Hall. This was where Graham Nash of The Hollies first met Terry Reid.
The two musicians soon became firm friends, and Graham Nash suggested that Peter and The Jaywalkers should sign to the UK division of Columbia Records. Peter and The Jaywalkers didn’t have to think twice, and soon, were signing on the dotted line.
At Columbia Records, Peter and The Jaywalkers worked with producer John Burgess on their debut single, The Hand Don’t Fit the Glove. It was released by Columbia in 1967, and gave the band a minor hit. Unfortunately, by then, Peter and The Jaywalkers had split-up. After this, Terry decided to pursue a solo career.
Fortunately, Terry Reid had come to the attention of producer and music impresario, Mickie Most. He produced Terry’s debut single Better By Far. On its release in 1968, it found favour among DJs, who soon, began to play the single on their radio shows. So Mickie Most took Terry into the studio to record his debut album, Bang Bang, You’re Terry Reid. When it was released later in 1968, it was to critical acclaim. Unfortunately, Bang Bang, You’re Terry Reid passed record buyer by. Soon, so did the opportunity of a lifetime.
Terry Reid had come to the attention of Jimmy Page, who had just disbanded The Yarbirds. He was in the process of putting together a new band, The New Yarbirds, and was looking for a vocalist. Jimmy Page had set his sights on Terry Reid, and decided to recruit him for his new band. There was a problem though.
It turned out that Terry Reid had agreed to tour America with Cream. Terry was the opening act, and as part of the tour, would play the prestigious Miami Pop Festival. Everything was agreed, and Terry was a man of his word. There was no way he could back out at the this late moment. So Terry recommended Robert Plant, a Birmingham based vocalist, as The New Yarbirds to Jimmy Page. Terry’s recommendation, changed musical history. He could’ve been part of one of the most successful rock bands ever, Led Zeppelin. Incredibly, lightning struck twice for Terry Reid.
1969 found Terry Reid’s star in the ascendancy. The American tour and his appearance at the Miami Pop Festival resulted in him becoming popular in America. Terry was also a familiar face in Britain during 1969. He opened for Fleetwood Mac and Jethro Tull, and released his sophomore eponymous album Terry Reid. Although it received positive reviews from critics, the album failed to find an audience. So later in 1969, Terry headed stateside where he opened for the Rolling Stones on their American tour.
By then, Terry Reid a familiar face in America, and already built up a loyal fan-base. So touring America with the Rolling Stones allowed Terry Reid’s music to be heard by a much wider audience. Night after night, Terry opened for the Rolling Stones as they played sold-out shows coast to coast. The only Rolling Stones Terry Reid didn’t play at, was their biggest and most controversial, Altamont Music Festival.
Fortunately, Terry Reid wasn’t booked to appear on the bill of the hastily organised Altamont Music Festival. This meant Terry avoid the bloodshed, chaos and violence. Terry had had a lucky escape. However, Terry might not have been on the Rolling Stones’ tour if things had turned out differently with Deep Purple.
During their 1969 American tour, Deep Purple decided to change direction, and move towards a heavier, rockier sound. Vocalist Rod Evans the other members of Deep Purple though, wasn’t suited to this style. It was decided that Rod Evans would be replaced. He was already contemplating an alternative career as an actor. So Deep Purple went looking for a replacement. The man Richie Blackmore set his sights on was Terry Reid.
Unfortunately, Terry Reid was still contracted to Mickie Most. He had signed Terry to an “exclusive recording contract.” Mickie Most had two options. He could let Terry join Deep Purple, or hold him to his contract. Rather than let Terry join Deep Purple, Mickie Most held him to his contract. After all, Mickie Most had plans for Terry.
Musical impresario Mickie Most decided to reinvent Terry Reid, the man who would be known as superlungs as a balladeer. This didn’t go down well with Terry, who fell out with Mickie Most in December 1969. Again, Mickie Most reached for the “exclusive recording contract.”
The “exclusive recording contract” that Terry Reid had signed with Mickie Most didn’t expire until 1973. Things had deteriorated to such an extent, that Terry was unwilling to record with Mickie Most. So Terry headed to California, and took some time out.
Over the next few years, Terry Reid only played a few live shows. This included the Isle of Wight Festival 1970 and later that year, the second Atlanta Pop Festival. Then in 1971, Terry returned to play at the Glastonbury Fayre. Apart from that performance, Terry Reid kept a low profile as he ran down Mickie Most’s “exclusive recording contract.” By 1973, Terry Reid was free at last.
This left Terry Reid free to sign to Atlantic Records. Soon, he began work on what became River.
For River, Terry had penned Dean, Things To Try, River and Dream. He cowrote Avenue with John Abercrombie; Live Life with Ray Davies and put lyrics to Miles Davis’ Milestones. These tracks would be recorded with Terry’s band.
Recording began at Advision Studios, in London, with Eddy Offord producing the River sessions. Eddy Offord who went on to produce Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, was regarded as a perfect fit for Terry Reid. He was no stranger to electric blues, and had produced two albums for Taste, a trio which featured Rory Gallagher. The two albums 1969s Taste and On The Boards had turned out well. So given his track record, surely, the partnership of Eddy Offord and Terry Reid would work out well?
That should’ve been the case. So, with Eddy Offord booked to produce the River sessions, Terry Reid and his band arrived at Advision Studios. Terry added vocals and guitar during what were long, drawn-out and frustrating sessions at Advision Studios.
For whatever reason, Terry Reid and his band didn’t hit the ground running. Usually, recording sessions ran smoothly, and weren’t long, drawn-out affairs. The River sessions was a frustrating time, with recording of what was meant to be the River a time-consuming and ultimately fruitless. There was a problem, but nobody seemed to know what? Maybe Eddy Offord was the wrong producer? That’s never became clear. What became clear, is that Terry wasn’t happy with River. He decided to scrap the album, and head to Los Angeles to rerecord River.
Terry Reid and his band arrived at Wally Helders, in Los Angeles. This time around, the band featured drummer Conrad Isidore, bassist Leo Miles and David Lindley on electric guitar, slide guitar and steel guitar. Willie Bobo added percussion on just the one track, River. Engineer Ed Barton acted as a de facto producer. Despite that, Tom Dowd was credited as producing five tracks that made it onto River. Once the sessions were completed at Wally Helders in L.A, Terry headed over to Miami, clutching the master tapes.
At Criteria Studios, the final master tapes were assembled. Only two songs produced by Eddy Offord, Dream and Milestones made it onto River. Five Tom Dowd productions made it onto the River, including Dean, Avenue, Things To Try, Live Life and River. These seven tracks became River.
Once River was complete, Terry Reid delivered the completed album to his new label Atlantic Records. They scheduled the release of River for later in 1973. Maybe after two false starts during the Mickie Most years, it would third time lucky for Terry Reid?
That looked like the case when critics heard River. They were hugely impressed by Terry Reid’s comeback album. After four long years, Superlungs was back, with album that married elements of blues rock, folk rock, Latin and rock. It was impressive fusion of styles, with Terry picking up where he left off on Terry.
Just like previous albums, Terry Reid eschewed the tightness many musicians preferred. Instead, Terry style was looser, and prone to improvisation on what was essentially an album of jams. They found Terry thinking on his feet musically, as he switched between and combined musical genres. Four of the songs found Terry and his band lock into languid, laid back, blues rock grooves. Then it’s all change, as River takes on a Latin sound. Dream and Milestone the find Terry trade his electric guitar for an acoustic, as he dawns the role of troubadour on two beautiful, but wistful songs.
Critics were won over by what was, without doubt, Terry Reid’s finest hour. As a result, critical acclaim accompanied the release of River. This bode well for River.
Alas, commercial success eluded River, and Terry Reid continued to be one of music’s best kept secrets. Following the commercial failure of River, Atlantic Records cut their losses, and Terry Reid left the label.
Terry Reid continued to search for a winning formula which would bring him both commercial success and critical acclaim. While he often enjoyed critical acclaim, commercial success seemed to elude him. That was the case with the Graham Nash produced Seed Of Memory. It found Terry backed by an all-star band. Seed Of Memory was released by ABC Records in 1976. Although critics were won over by Seed Of Memory, commercial success eluded Terry Reid. This became a familiar story.
Two years later, and Terry Reid returned with Rogue Waves. It was released on Capitol Records. Terry combined hard rocking numbers with soulful songs. Maybe this would be that elusive winning formula that Terry had been seeking for a decade? Sadly, that wasn’t the case. While the album was well received by critics, Rogue Waves passed record buyers by. For Terry, this was almost the end of the road.
Three years later, in 1981, Terry Reid called time on his solo career. He retired aged just thirty-seven. By then, he had released just five solo albums. Terry decided to concentrate on working as a session musician.
For the next ten years, Terry Reid made a living as a session musician, accompanying some of the biggest names in music. Then in 1991, Terry, like many retired musicians, decided to make a comeback. He signed to Warner Bros. and released The Driver in 1991. Many critics welcomed the return of Superlungs. Other critics felt The Driver wasn’t Terry’s best album. With no consensus, record buyers had the casting vote.
It was a familiar story, with The Driver failing to find an audience. For Terry Reid, this was a huge blow. Never again would Terry return to the studio.
Instead, the only album Terry Reid released was Alive! in 2004. It featured a concert recorded a decade earlier in live in California in 1994. Alive! was a reminder that Terry Red was a truly talented singer, songwriter and musician. So was another live album released during 2004.
Later in 2004, another live album was released, Silver White Light-Live At The Isle Of Wight 1970. This was recorded during the three year standoff between Terry and Mickie Most. It’s a tantalising taste of what should’ve been the formative years of Terry Reid’s career. He was only twenty-six and could’ve and should’ve been enjoying successful albums and playing sellout shows. Instead, he was running his contract with Mickie Most down. These were three wasted years for Terry, which must have been hugely frustrating for him. The three years out of the musical spotlight most likely, damaged Terry’s career. When he returned in 1973, it was almost like starting over.
By 31st August 2010, Terry Reid was back in London, where his career began forty-five years earlier. He was due to play at Ronnie Scott’s. That concert was recorded, and two years later, was released as a double album, Live In London. It showed that although Terry was sixty-six, he still was a hugely talented singer and musician. That night, Terry’s set featured fourteen songs. This included eleven songs penned by Terry, and covers of John David Souther’s Leaving and Gone; Brian Wilson’s Don’t Worry Baby and Bob Hillard and David Mann’s Wee Small Hours. They were part of a captivating show from Terry Reid, and were a welcome addition to his back-catalogue. So is The Other Side Of The River.
The Other Side Of The River.
After forty-three years of rumour and speculation, an album consisting of songs recorded during the River sessions were released. These eleven songs were billed as The Other Side Of The River.
At last, here was confirmation that the rumour and speculation was true. Eleven songs recorded during the River sessions feature, and show The Other Side Of The River. This includes Let’s Go Down, a jam which opens the album. Terry Reid and his band play with a looseness and spontaneity. That’s the case on an alternative version of Avenue (F# Boogie), where Terry and his band head in the direction of blues rock. Avenue isn’t the only alternate take on The Other Side Of The River.
Things To Try and River are both alternate tacks. Terry remembers Things To Try as a song the band couldn’t quite nail. It took several takes, and this is one of them. Just like the alternate take of River, it shows another side to the song, and it’s interesting to compare and contrast. Both songs would be worthy of featuring on any album.
Country Brazilian Funk shows another side to Terry Reid. They play with speed, accuracy and passion, combining country, Latin, funk and even a hint of blues. It’s all change on Listen With Eyes, a beautiful, tender and understated sounding ballad. Anyway is another alternate track, is a piano lead track where Terry’s scats softly on a dreamy and beautiful track. There’s a hesitancy as the guitar opens Celtic Melody, as if the band are looking for an in. Eventually, Terry scats his vocal growing in power and passion. Alas, after just two minutes, the song is but a memory. Soon, though, Terry changes direction.
Funny which is another of the alternate takes, is a eight minute meandering jam, that gradually reveals its secrets, subtleties and beauty. After six minutes, Terry Reid unleashes one of his most soulful, impassioned vocals. Late Night Idea was recorded late one night, at Wally Helder’s Studio and features Terry playing piano and scatting. With neither an audience in the gallery, nor studio, Terry plays with freedom. It’s a poignant moment. Closing The Other Side Of The River, is Sabyla another instrumental. After a hesitant start, Terry and his band hit their stride. The rhythm section and piano provide the backdrop for Terry, as he unleashes a blistering guitar solo on this instrumental. It’s one of the finest moments on The Other Side Of The River.
After forty-three years of rumour and speculation, now further songs recorded during the River session are available. This includes new songs and alternate takes. Among the new songs, are instrumentals, including Sabyla. Listen With Eyes and Anyway are beautiful, understated ballads. A couple of songs are work in progress, and it would’ve been interesting to see what they might have become if Terry Reid had developed them further. They’ve bags of potential. Then on other tracks, including Let’s Go Down and Avenue (F# Boogie), Terry plays with his trademark looseness and spontaneity. When Terry plays like this, it’s as if at any given time, he could lead the band on a musical detour where they improvise, switching between and combining disparate musical genres. That’s what Terry does on Country Brazilian Funk, where he and his band showcase their considerable talents. They continue to do this throughout The Other Side Of The River.
This much anticipated album is the perfect companion to Terry Reid’s 1973 album. The Other Side Of The River shows what Terry and his band were doing throughout other parts of the sessions. Doubtless, there’s still much still to be released. Who knows though, maybe the music on The Other Side Of The River is the best of the River sessions?
What I do know, is that for anyone who enjoyed Terry Reid’s finest hour, River then The Other Side Of The River will be a welcome addition to their music collection. For newcomers to Terry Reid, then I would suggest buying both River and The Other Side Of The River. First familiarise with the delights of River, and then let Terry Reid take you to The Other Side Of The River and enjoy this mixture of new songs, familiar faces and hidden gems.
TERRY REID-THE OTHER SIDE OF THE RIVER.
There aren’t many six year olds that leave home to become a dancer. That’s apart from Edwin Sanz. He was only six when he joined the Grupo Madera dance group, which promotes Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Venezuelan culture through dance and music. For the next twelve years, Edwin Sanz toured Venezuela and traversed South America and Europe. During that period, he lived and breathed dance and music. It was also during this period that Edwin Sanz learnt to play percussion.
Little did anyone realise that through practise, persistence and determination, Edwin Sanz would become one of the most talented Venezuelan percussionists of his generation. He’s made a career as a percussionist, and worked with some of the biggest names in music. However, over the last couple of years, Edwin Sanz has been forging a solo career. He released his debut album San Agustin to critical acclaim in 2014. Two years later, and Edwin Sanz returns with Overflow, which will be released on the 23rd September 2016, on Alex Wilson Records. Overflow features Edwin Sanz showcasing his considerable and remarkable skills. These skills Edwin Sanz has spent a lifetime honing.
The Edwin Sanz story begins in Caracas, Venezuela, in the working class district of San Augustin del Sur. That was where Edwin Sanz was born into a large, but loving family. Money was tight, with all the children sharing the one bedroom. However, one thing played an important part in family life, Afro-Venezuelan culture.
This had played a big part in his family’s life. They weren’t from Caracas, Instead, they had moved from Barlovento, where Afro-Venezuelan culture is particularly strong. Music and dance play an important part in everyday life. That was certainly the case with Edwin Sanz’s uncle.
Growing up in Barlovento, dance played an important part in Reinaldo Mijares’ life. However, Reinaldo Mijares was a talented dancer. So much so, that eventually, he became a professional dancer and choreographer. That was what Reinaldo Mijares was doing when Edwin Sanz was born.
By the time Edwin Sanz was six, he followed in his uncle’s footsteps. Reinaldo Mijares introduced Edwin, his young nephew to the Grupo Madera. They wanted Edwin to join the Grupo Madera as a dancer. His family encouraged Edwin to join the Grupo Madera as a dancer. This was not just a way to escape poverty, but an opportunity to see the world. So the six year old seized the opportunity, and left his family home in Caracas.
For the next twelve years, Edwin was totally immersed in Afro-Caribbean and Afro-Venezuelan culture. By the age of fourteen, Edwin was a “fully-fledged” member of Grupo Madera. By then, Edwin began to show an interest in making music. This was a game-changer.
WIthin Grupo Madera, Edwin Sanz was regarded as a talented dancer, who was an important part of the troupe. Surely, he could’t be contemplating turning his back on music? Not yet. However, Edwin was interested the percussion, which played such an important part in the music Grupo Madera’s danced to. So Edwin began to learn and practise percussion as the group travelled far and wide.
The Grupo Madera toured Venezuela and traversed South America. Sometimes, they travelled to Europe. Throughout these tours, the Grupo Madera were familiar faces on television shows. During that period, dance and music was central to his life. Edwin Sanz literally lived and breathed music. Meanwhile, he had a dream.
Edwin Sanz dreamt of embarking upon a career as a musician. So, when he wasn’t dancing, Edwin was practising and perfecting his skills as a percussionist. Already, Edwin was beginning to look beyond life as a dancer. Eventually, after twelve years touring with the Grupo Madera, Edwin decided to leave the group. This was a huge step for him.
By then, Edwin Sanz was eighteen, but had spent the best part of his life with the Grupo Madera. For twelve years he had toured and performed with them. He grew up on the road, in what Edwin describes as the “school of life.” It was also where Edwin served his musical apprenticeship. Now he wanted to put into practise what he had learnt.
So as a new millennia dawned, Edwin Sanz headed to Europe to develop his skills as a percussionist. First stop for Edwin was Paris, France. That became Edwin’s home for a few years. After that, Edwin decided to move on, and eventually, settled down in the beautiful city of Geneva, in Switzerland. The Swiss city became his adopted home. Since then, Edwin has kept busy. Not only does he teach music, but has played with many bands and artists.
This includes a number of years as conguero with the European based band Mercadonegro. It’s a role he continues to fulfil. Similarly, Edwin Sanz continues to take to the stage, as they traverse the globe with Rodrigo and Gabriella’s Cuban Area 52 project. That however, is just part of the story of Edwin Sanz’s musical career.
He’s gone from session player to sideman, working with the likes of Adalberto Santiago, Africando, Gypsy Kings, Jose Alberto Canario, Cruz. They’ve all featured the percussive skills of Edwin Sanz. So have Isaac Delgado, Malia, Richie Ray and Bobby. Edwin Sanz it seems, the hardest working man in Latin music. However, one man that’s worked with Edwin, is Alex Wilson whose played an important part in his new album Overflow.
Alex Wilson co-produced Overflow, the much anticipated followup to Edwin Sanz’s debut album San Agustin. Overflow features nine tracks where a talented, all-star cast accompany Edwin. Together, they fuse salsa, Latin grooves and gospel-tinged vocals combine to create a delicious and heady brew.
To record Overflow, Edwin Sanz and his multinational band headed to Chamonix, and the studio of French pianist Andre Manoukian. That was where percussionist Edwin Sanz was joined by his countryman, trumpeter Oscar “Chucky” Cordero. He’s one of the leading lights of Venezuela’s nu-salsa scene. Among the other band members are British saxophonist Paul Booth, who is joined Greek bassist Dimitris Christopoulous. Co-producing Overflow with Alex Wilson, is Nicky Brown, vocalist with the London Community Gospel Choir. He plays an important part in Overflow. It’s a magical musical mystery tour, where familiar songs are reinvented and transformed into something totally different. Never before has Screaming Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You and Level 42’s Something About You. That’s just part of what’s a captivating musical story, Overflow.
We’re Blessed opens Overflow. Just the sound of a radio changing channel greets the listener, until harmonies usher in Nicky Brown’s vampish male vocal. It’s accompanied by the bass, a myriad of Latin percussion, keyboards and stabs of blazing horns. Meanwhile, Nicky’s soulful, impassioned vocal is accompanied by gospel-tinged and cooing female harmonies. They feed off each other, encouraging each other to greater heights of soulfulness, drama and emotion. Later, Edwin’s percussion is joined by a bass that soon becomes uber funky, while bursts of horns soar above the arrangement. Still Nicky’s vocal and harmonies continue to reach new heights of soulfulness. Together with the multitalented band, they create a joyous and irresistible sounding fusion of soul, funk, gospel and Latin music, which whets the appetite for the rest of the Overflow.
Ella is a piano lead track, where synths and percussion provide the backdrop for a heartfelt vocal. It’s delivered with emotion, as horns bray and blaze, as the bass joins a twinkling Fender Rhodes and futuristic synths. Soon, though, musical cultures combine to create a delicious slice of dance-floor friendly music. Jazz, soul and salsa are the vital ingredients, as horns, percussion and the bass accompany the vocal, while joyous harmonies add the finishing touch. By then, it’s almost impossible to keep still on what’s a joyous and glorious call to dance, that’s guaranteed to get any party started.
Anyone who knows and loves the blues, will be familiar with Screaming Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You. Here, it’s reinvented, and heads in a totally new and unexpected direction as a female vocalist delivers a vocal powerhouse. It’s soulful and spellbinding, as she delivers and lives the lyrics. Meanwhile, scratches add a hip hop influence; while a myriad of effects, join stabs of synths and occasional whoops and hollers. They’re joined by Latin percussion, mesmeric keyboards and growling horns. They’re raison d’être is to accompany the vocal as soul and jazz combines. Still, futuristic sounds punctuate the arrangement, but gradually, though, the Latin influence grows. So does the hip hop influence, as a soulful rap is unleashed. By then, the genre-melting describes the arrangement. So does dramatic and captivating, as the vocal become a vamp where, blues, soul and jazz combine. As the song reaches a crescendo, one can’t help but press play again, and revel in this mini musical masterpiece.
Something About You was originally recorded by Level 42. For Edwin’s cover, Mike Lindup of Level 42 makes a guest appearance. The arrangement is very different. Latin percussion is to the fore, and is augmented by a piano, keyboards, bass and braying horns. Later, the arrangement becomes jaunty, as harmonies accompany Mike’s soulful, heartfelt vocal. When it drops out, piano pick up the baton. On its return, Mike’s vocal is accompanied by piano, cooing harmonies and blazing horns. They combine to reinvent an eighties classic.
Eres Tu`meanders into life, with the synths joining with a bass, Latin percussion and a Spanish guitar. They provide the perfect backdrop for a tender, but souful vocal. Soon, though, the piano is adding a jaunty backdrop as horns bray and blaze while a cowbell rings out. By then the tempo is rising, as another delicious slice of salsa unfolds. Although the lyrics are romantic, there’s a sense of melancholia. There’s also a sense of soulfulness, while the Latin percussion, piano and braying horns combine. Harmonies augment the vocal, on what’s a beautiful, melodic and captivating slice of musical sunshine.
Everybody Dance With Edwin Sanz literally explodes into life, combining funk and salsa with Nicky’s soulful, joyous vocal. It’s accompanied by Edwin’s percussion, a piano, probing bass, crystalline guitar and the blazing, growling horns. The vocal is one of the best on the album, and it’s as if the band realise this. They provide the perfect backdrop. Stabs of horns, a jaunty piano, a searing, scorching guitar solo and a percussive masterclass from Edwin. He showcases his not inconsiderable skills. Meanwhile, Nicky encourages: “Everybody Dance With Edwin Sanz.” This they’re bound to do, given this is a truly irresistible, joyous salsa
A roll of drums ushers in the band on Còmo Olvidar. Horns join with the bass, piano and percussion in creating a backdrop for the vocal on this emotive ballad. Meanwhile, the band create a glorious backdrop where the piano joins with the bass and percussion, while stabs of horns punctuate the arrangement. Harmonies are added, before the vocal drops out. Briefly, the band get the opportunity to showcase their skills. They play with flair and flamboyance, before the vocal and then harmonies return. From there, they become one with the band, combining musical genres and influences to create what can only be described as alluring and inviting feel-good music. Alas, all too soon, the song reaches a crescendo. leaving just the memory of four magical minutes.
Rasping horns and keyboards join the and percussion on De Mujer A Mujer. Horns reach blaze, and the arrangement almost grinds to a halt. This signals the entrance of a beautiful, heartfelt female vocal. It grows in power and emotion, while the keyboards, growling horns and percussion provide the perfect backdrop. Harmonies augment the vocal, as it veers between soulful to jazz-tinged. Meanwhile, the bass prowls, as piano, percussion and rasping horns match the vocal every step of the way. They combine elements of jazz, Latin and soul which is combined with a healthy dose of salsa. The result is a dreamy, slice of summery music whose beauty captivates and compels.
Yo Vengo De Venezuela closes Overflow. Percussion rings out, and combines with joyous vocals and a piano. Soon, they’re joined by stabs and braying, blazing horns. Meanwhile, the vocal sings call and response with backing vocalists, as percussion, piano and horns power the arrangement along. Later, when the vocal drops out, keyboards take centre-stage, before horns enjoy their moment in the spotlight. When the vocal and harmonies return, this irresistible slice of hook-laden salsa ensures that Overflow closes on a high.
That’s certainly the case with Overflow, Edwin Sanz’s much anticipated sophomore album. It will be released on the 23rd September 2016, on Alex Wilson Records. Overflow, quite simply is one of the best Latin albums of recent years.
Although Overflow features just nine slices of glorious salsa lasting forty minutes, every one is a winner. They feature Edwin Sanz and his multitalented, international band reinventing old songs and introducing the audience to new ones. To do that, they combine elements of Afro-Venezuelan, funk, gospel, hip hop, jazz, Latin, rock and soul. However, Edwin Sanz’s speciality is salsa, and Overflow is a modern salsa album. It’s salsa for the twenty-first century.
Edwin Sanz doesn’t just deploy the instruments that one expects to feature on a salsa album, but adds a myriad of sounds, effects, scratches, and even a rap. Then there’s the various guest artists who feature on Overflow.
This includes Nicky Brown of the London’s Community Gospel Choir, who adds the vocal on We’re Blessed. Mike Lindup of Level 42 delivers the vocal on Level 42’s eighties classic, Something About You. Both tracks are reinvented and takes on new meaning. However, there’s more to Overflow than two songs.
From the opening bars of We’re Blessed, right through to the closing notes of Yo Vengo De Venezuela, Overflow is an album that oozes quality. The music is variously beautiful, captivating, joyous and melodic. Edwin Sanz also creates music that’s dance-floor friendly and truly irresistible. Quite simply, it’s a magical musical mystery tour through genres and influences, with Edwin Sanz as the tour guide.
He’s one of the finest percussionists of his generation, and one of the rising stars of music. That’s apparent throughout Overflow, where We’re Blessed to hear Edwin Sanz’s beautiful, joyous and uplifting, genre-melting music. It’s guaranteed to get any party started, where everybody dances with Edwin Sanz. So take my advice, and grab a copy of Overflow, and let Edwin Sanz put a spell on you.
FRIGHTENED RABBIT-PAINTING OF A PANIC ATTACK.
Frightened Rabbit’s roots can be traced back to Scott Hutchison’s teenage years in Selkirk, Scotland. Back then, Scott Hutchison was chronically shy. So much so, that his mother christening her son Frightened Rabbit. This moniker Scott would later resurrect, when he began to play some live shows.
Before that, Scott Hutchison had spent the previous six months making recordings on a four-track recorder. By then, Scott was beginning to overcome his shyness. So much so, that he was thinking about playing a few live shows as a solo artist. This was when Scott decided to dust down the Frightened Rabbit moniker.
Having adopted the Frightened Rabbit moniker, Scott Hutchison made his first tentative steps into the local music scene in 2003. For the first year, Frightened Rabbit was just Scott and his guitar. After a year, Frightened Rabbit’s lineup expanded.
Frightened Rabbit’s latest addition was Grant Hutchison, Scott’s brother. He joined in 2004 and became the band’s drummer. A year later in 2005, bassist Billy Kennedy joined Frightened Rabbit. Already, word was spreading about Frightened Rabbit. This was no surprise.
For the first couple of years, Frightened Rabbit were a familiar face on Scotland’s live scene. They knew the only way to build a following was by plating live. There were no short cuts. It also allowed the indie rockers to hone their sound. At their early shows, Frightened Rabbit gave out their email address, promising to send anyone who wanted one , a demo and even biscuits.
Soon, demos were being sent not just to the four corners of Scotland, but rest of Britain, and even America. Frightened Rabbit knew the value of self-promotion. These demos would introduce Frightened Rabbit’s music to a much wider audience. So when Frightened Rabbit released their debut album, hopefully, they would have a ready made audience for their music.
Before long, Frightened Rabbit were attracting the attention of record companies. It was obvious that they weren’t going to remain an unsigned band for much longer. Frightened Rabbit signed to the Hits The Fan label, and began working on their debut album, Sing The Greys.
Sing The Greys.
For their debut album, Sing The Greys Frightened Rabbit had penned ten songs. They were recorded at The Diving Bell Lounge, in Glasgow. Co-producing Sing The Greys, was Marcus MacKay. Once the album was complete, Hits The Fan scheduled the release for the summer of 2006.
Before that, critics had their say on Sing The Greys. Frightened Rabbit’s debut album was well received by critics. Several critics thought that Frightened Rabbit were rising stars of the indie scene.
Despite this, the Hits The Fan label had only 1,000 copies of Sing The Greys pressed. Given the band already had built up a loyal following, this seemed a strange decision. When Sing The Greys was released on June 5th 2006, the album sold well, and is now something of a collectable. Frightened Rabbit were on their way.
Having released their debut album, Frightened Rabbit continued to play live, and spread their musical message. Sing The Greys had introduced Frightened Rabbit’s music to a new audience. This included some record companies who were watching the progress of Frightened Rabbit.
This included the Brighton based FatCat Records. They saw the potential in Frightened Rabbit, and signed the band in 2007. Straight away, FatCat Records decided to reissue Sing The Greys. Before that, some parts of the album had to be recorded, while the album was remixed and remastered. The reissue of Sing The Greys on FatCat Records took the pressure off Frightened Rabbit. Now they could spend time writing and recording their sophomore album, The Midnight Organ Fight.
The Midnight Organ Fight,
Just like their debut album Sing The Greys, Frightened Rabbit wrote the fourteen songs that became The Midnight Organ Fight. The main difference was that the album was recorded not just in Glasgow, but America.
While some of the recording of The Midnight Organ Fight took place at The Diving Bell Lounge, in Glasgow, much of the recording took place at Tarquin Studios, Bridgeport, Connecticut. That was home to producer, engineer, mixer and musician Peter Katis. After a month where Frightened Rabbit spent long hours recording The Midnight Organ Fight, the album was complete. Now Frightened Rabbit headed home to Glasgow, which was now home to the band.
With The Midnight Organ Fight recorded, Scott Hutchison was back in Glasgow for New Year. That was where Scott bumped into guitarist and keyboardist Andy Monaghan of Piano Bar Fight on New Year’s Eve. They had supported Frightened Rabbit, and knew each other quite well. However, Andy wasn’t prepared for Scott asking him if he would like to play a few shows with Frightened Rabbit. This wasn’t supporting the band, but as part of the band. Soon, Frightened Rabbit became a quartet.
They would make their debut supporting The Midnight Organ Fight, which was scheduled to be released in Spring of 2008. It would soon become apparent that all Frightened Rabbit’s hard work had been worthwhile.
When critics heard The Midnight Organ Fight, they spoke as one praising what was a highly accomplished and carefully crafted album. The lyrics met with the approval of critics, who were won over by the honesty. They played in album that was released to overwhelming critical acclaim. This bode well for release of The Midnight Organ Fight.
It was released on 15th April 2008. Alas, The Midnight Organ Fight reached just seventy-two in the Scottish album charts. This was a disappointment for Frightened Rabbit. The Midnight Organ Fight looked like it was set to be the band’s breakthrough album. However, Frightened Rabbit returned later in 2008 with their first live album, Quietly Now!
Recording Frightened Rabbit’s first live album took place in adopted hometown of Glasgow. Frightened Rabbit had chosen fourteen songs, that they would play at The Captain’s Rest, on 30th July 2008. That night Frightened Rabbit showed another side to their music,
When Frightened Rabbit took to the stage at The Captain’s Rest, the proceeded to play what was mostly, an acoustic set. The fourteen songs were mostly taken from The Midnight Organ Fight. Joining Frightened Rabbit, were James Graham from The Twilight Sad. He features on Keep Yourself Warm, while Ross Clark joins Frightened Rabbit on Old Old Fashioned. After fourteen songs, Frightened Rabbit left the stage to rapturous applause.
When Quietly Now! was released on October 21st 2008, the album only featured twelve songs. Two songs, the instrumental interludes Bright Pink Bookmark and Extrasupervery were omitted. However, that didn’t matter. They wrote glowing reviews of Quietly Now!, praising Frightened Rabbit’s mostly acoustic performance. Things however, were about to improve for Frightened Rabbit.
As 2008 drew to a close, The Midnight Organ Fight found its way onto the lists of best albums of 2008. It seemed that hardly a day passed without a magazine, broadsheet or website listing The Midnight Organ Fight as one of the albums of 2008. At least Frightened Rabbit knew they were on the right road. They were determined to come back stronger, with their third album, The Winter of Mixed Drinks.
The Winter of Mixed Drinks.
Now a quartet, the new lineup of Frightened Rabbit began work on The Winter of Mixed Drinks. This time though, Scott Hutchison headed to the Fife fishing village Crail.
Scott needed to unwind after a gruelling touring schedule. However, during his break in Fife, Scott mixed business and pleasure. He wrote the lyrics to The Winter of Mixed Drinks, in Crail. His surrounding influence the music on The Winter of Mixed Drinks, which has a nautical theme. During his stay in Crail, Scott even recorded some demos. The music would be written by Frightened Rabbit.
With The Winter of Mixed Drinks taking shape, Frightened Rabbit headed into the studio. Again, recording was split between Scotland and America. Castle Sound Studios, in Pencaitland, where The Blue Nile had recorded, was used to record much of The Winter of Mixed Drinks. Additional recording took place at Peter Katis’ Tarquin Studios, Bridgeport, Connecticut. By the middle of 2010, the album was complete.
Chris Hutchison was keen that there shouldn’t be large gaps between album. However, it wasn’t until March 2010 that FatCat Records released The Winter of Mixed Drinks. However, promotion of the album began in 2009. For the next six months, Frightened Rabbit were involved in a whirlwind of promotional activities and playing live. Then just before the release of The Winter of Mixed Drinks, critics had their say.
Just like their previous album The Midnight Organ Fight, The Winter of Mixed Drinks received praise, plaudits and critical acclaim. Critics were won over by the themes of escape, freedom and reinvention. They also welcomed what was a much more focused, polished and optimistic album. The Winter of Mixed Drinks looked as if it was going to be Frightened Rabbit’s breakthrough album.
And so it proved to be. When The Winter of Mixed Drinks was released on March 1st 2010, the album reached number ten in Scotland; sixty-one in the UK and eighty-four in the US Billboard 200. That wasn’t the end of the success for Frightened Rabbit.
They released four singles between 2009 and 2010 from The Winter of Mixed Drinks. The first was Swim Until You Can’t See Land, which reached number three on the US Sales charts in 2009. The followup Nothing Like You then reached number ten on the US Sales charts in 2010. By then, Frightened Rabbit had featured on American television. Their star was in the ascendancy.
Later in 2010, Frightened Rabbit’s luck looked as if it had run out, when Nothing Like You failed to chart. It was then business as normal, when The Loneliness and The Scream number eleven on the US Sales charts. Frightened Rabbit were determined to build on the success they enjoyed in America.
Before that, the announcement came that Frightened Rabbit had just signed to Atlantic Records. Frightened Rabbit were ready to make their major label debut, and came bearing gifts.
On 28th July 2011, Frightened Rabbit released the State Hospital E.P, which was produced by Leo Abrahams. This was three month’s before Frightened Rabbit’s US tour began. Subscribers to Frightened Rabbit’s newsletter were in for a pleasant surprise, as they could download the State Hospital E.P. free. For a band looking to grow their fan-base in America, this was a minor masterstroke.
By 6th December 2011, Frightened Rabbit announced that they were about to be begin pre-production of their major label debut album, Pedestrian Verse.
Even by the time pre-production began, Frightened Rabbit were familiar with the songs that became Pedestrian Verse. They had been practising them on their US Tour. Just like The Winter of Mixed Drinks, Scott Hutchison had penned the lyrics and Frightened Rabbit wrote the music to Pedestrian Verse. It was recorded with Leo Abrahams, who co-produced the album with Frightened Rabbit.
Previously, Leo Abrahams had produced Frightened Rabbit’s State Hospital E.P. The vastly experienced musician and producer returned to co-produce Pedestrian Verse. Leo Abrahams brought with a huge amount of experience. He had released seven solo albums; worked on numerous collaborations and soundtracks; worked as a session musician and co-produced and produced a variety of artist. It seemed like Leo Abrahams was perfectly qualified to co-produce Pedestrian Verse.
Recording of Pedestrian Verse took place at Monnow Valley Studios, in Rockfield; The Distillery in Costa Mesa, California; Strongroom Music Studios, London; Brier Grove and The Flat. Once the album was completed, Craig Silvey mixed Pedestrian Verse. Then one of Britain’s top mastering engineers, Mandy Parnell. took charge of mastering Pedestrian Verse. Only then was the album complete.
With Pedestrian Verse ready for release, Atlantic Records began promoting Frightened Rabbit’s major label debut. While FatCat Records had spent the best part of six months promoting, The Winter of Mixed Drinks, this was a whole new ball game. Atlantic Records’ promotional campaign was much more extensive than anything Frightened Rabbit had been part of it. It paid off though.
When critics heard Pedestrian Verse, they were impressed by a much more eclectic selection of songs. They dealt with a variety of subjects. Critcis also felt Pedestrian Verse was a much more polished and cohesive album. Again, critics were won over by Frightened Rabbit and the reviews were mostly positive.
So with critical acclaim ringing in their ears, Pedestrian Verse was released on 4th February 2013. The album reached number two in Scotland; number nine in the UK; forty-nine in Ireland and sixty-three in the US Billboard 200. Pedestrian Verse was without doubt, the most successful album of Frightened Rabbit’s career. However, things got even better.
The Woodpile was released as a single in 2013, and reached seventy-four in Scotland and forty-two in the Mexico Ingles Airplay chart. Backyard Skulls then reached ninety-five in Scotland and forty-five in the Mexico Ingles Airplay chart. Although the singles were just minor singles, never before had Frightened Rabbit enjoyed a hit in Scotland or Mexico. The Atlantic Records’ years had started well for Frightened Rabbit.
After the release of Pedestrian Verse, Frightened Rabbit headed out on the longest and most gruelling tour of their career. Once the seemingly never ending tour was over, Frightened Rabbit decided to take “a break from all band related activities.” This left fans wondering what was happening Frightened Rabbit?
Especially when Scott Hutchison and his girlfriend decided to forego the delights of Glasgow for Los Angeles. The story took a twist when Scott decided to record an album as Owl John. Joining him in this new band were Andy Monaghan and Simon Liddell. Owl John was released on 4th of August 2014, and was well received by critics. By then, Gordon Skene had left Frightened Rabbit.
At the time, Gordon Skene released a statement on the 25th March 2014 that said: “there is no more to tell other than sometimes things just don’t work out and when people have differing opinions often the best option is to simply part ways and get on with life separately.” Scott Hutchison then had his say.
“Without going too far into it, Gordon’s personality didn’t fit with the band.” While that may well be the case, it had taken the other members of Frightened Rabbit the best part of six years to realise this. What wasn’t clear was whether, or when Frightened Rabbit would release another album?
Painting Of A Panic Attack.
Eventually, the situation became clear earlier in 2016. Frightened Rabbit released a statement via various social media outlets that their fifth album Painting Of A Panic Attack would be released later that year.
Frightened Rabbit had written ten of the twelve tracks on Painting of a Panic Attack. The other two, Little Drum and Break were written by producer Aaron Dessner. The twelve tracks that became Painting Of A Panic Attack were recorded in seven studios.
Recording of Painting Of A Panic Attack took place at 312, Glasgow; Audio Lounge, Glasgow; Bryn Derwen, Bethesda; Monnow Valley, Monmouth; Dreamland Recording Studios, in New York; Aaron’s Garage; 312, Glasgow; The Audio Lounge, Glasgow and Toast Studios, London. That was where Frightened Rabbit and a new face laid down the twelve songs.
As recording began Scott Hutchison took charge of lead vocals and played rhythm guitar. His brother Grant, played drums, percussion and added backing vocals. Billy Kennedy’s mostly played bass, but could play guitar, keyboards and aded backing vocals. Andy Monaghan was another multi-instrumentalist, who played guitar, keyboards and bass. The new face was Simon Liddell who toured with Frightened Rabbit during 2013 and 2014. He played guitar and keyboards, and replaced Gordon Skene. This latest lineup of Frightened Rabbit recorded Painting Of A Panic Attack. Once it was completed, it was ready for release.
Before that, Painting Of A Panic Attack was released to mostly critical acclaim. There was the occasional critic that wasn’t won over by Frightened Rabbit’s latest offering. Mostly, though, Frightened Rabbit’s fifth album Painting Of A Panic Attack was a return to form.
Death Dream opens Painting Of A Panic Attack, Straight away, there’s a wistful, melancholy sound as the piano plays. It’s joined by Chris’ vocal as he delivers the dark lyrics. They’re captivating, cinematic and rich in imagery. Listening to the lyrics, akin eavesdropping on someone reveals dreams, deepest fears or phobias, like, in this case, a panic attack. Strings and percussion augment the stark piano lead arrangement. Harmonies are added, as Chris sings call and response, delivering an emotive, soul-baring vocal. They result in a poignant and powerful song.
Drums are joined by guitars on Get Out, as the track takes on an indie sound. At first, Chris’ vocal and the rest of the arrangement is understated. Then suddenly, it bursts into life. The volume increases and Frightened Rabbit head into anthem territory. Keyboards join the rhythm section and burst of searing, machine guitars. Together, they create a rocky anthem, that’s sure to become a favourite of Frightened Rabbit’s live shows.
A crystalline guitar opens I Wish I Was Sober, before a piano plays. When Chris’ vocal enters, he sings of someone addicted to alcohol. Soon, the arrangement takes on a rocky sound, with the rhythm section, burst of scorching guitars and ethereal harmonies providing a backdrop for a vocal that’s akin to a confessional. Emotion and desperation fill his vocal as he sings, “I Wish I Was Sober.”
Drums crack as washes of synths play their part in Woke Up Hurting’s understated arrangement. Chris’ vocal has a similar understated sound. However, Frightened Rabbit pull a rabbit from their musical hat, as again, the arrangement explodes into life. This is similar to Get Out. Another similarity is that Frightened Rabbit are heading into sing-a-long anthem territory. There’s even a nod to Big Country. Meanwhile, the rhythm section provide the heartbeat, while the guitar is played with speed and accuracy, and helps drive the arrangement along. As a hurt-filled Chris delivers the lyrics, harmonies accompany him on a memorable and melodic song.
Cinematic describes the introduction to Little Drum. Distant synths, drums and horns combine, creating an almost industrial sound. Chris’ vocal is impassioned and heartfelt, while drums crack, horns bray and percussion clicks are joined by pizzicato strings. They play their part in what’s a much more experimental sounding arrangement. It’s as if Frightened Rabbit want to move in a new direction, and in doing so, showcase their versatility and creativity.
Washes of synths play their part in Still Want To Be Here’s understated arrangement. By then, elements of electronica and folk have been combined. That’s until it literally explodes into life. An acoustic guitar, keyboards and rhythm section accompanying Chris’ tender vocal. From there, Frightened Rabbit veer between an underrated to rocky arrangement, on what’s a memorable and genre-melting song where poppy hooks are plentiful.
It’s a strummed guitar and piano that open An Otherwise Disappointing Life. The piano drops out, as Chris’ is accompanied by the rhythm section, guitars and harmonies. Despair and disappointment fills Chris’ vocal, as the song heads into anthem territory. Chris’ vocal is carried above the rhythm section, searing guitars, as he reflects on what might have been.
There’s no let up on Break. The rhythm section and scorching guitars accompany a powerhouse of a vocal. Just like many of the songs, emotive and soul-searching describes the vocal. Then when the tempo drops, chords are picked out on the piano. Soon, though Frightened Rabbit are back into anthem territory. They’ve an uncanny knack of writing memorable and catchy pop songs.
Keyboards wheeze as drums thud on Blood Under The Bridge. Chris’ vocal is slow, deliberate as a bass bubbles. At any moment, one expects Frightened Rabbit to up the tempo. It does, still Frightened Rabbit are in ballad territory. This means that one focus on the Chris’ cerebral lyrics. With every album he seems to be maturing as a songwriter. Later, the vocal drops outm and the arrangement becomes slow and dreamy. When it returns, harmonies augment Chris’ vocal on what’s one of the highlights of Painting Of Panic Attack.
400 Bones starts life an understated piano lead ballad. Later, strings are added. That was all that was needed to create a beautiful song. However, Frightened Rabbit decided to add to the arrangement. Drums are added as the arrangement grows in power and drama. Guitars join the rhythm section as Frightened Rabbit transform this tender ballad into, what becomes a folk rock power ballad.
Synths are to the fore on Lump Street, buzzing and droning as drums play. They add an atmospheric hue, as Chris delivers the vocal. He’s joined by the piano, rhythm section, guitars and ethereal harmonies. Constantly, Chris paints pictures about Lump Street. All the time drums pound, and create the heartbeat to this driving, cinematic anthem.
Closing Painting Of A Panic Attack is Die Like A Rich Boy. Just an acoustic guitar and piano accompanies Chris’ cinematic lyrics. He sings of turning his life around and eventually, he can: “Die Like A Rich Boy.” Later strings are added, before the arrangement builds. It’s a mixture of power and drama, something that Frightened Rabbit have used several times on the album. Frightened Rabbit unite and sing as the dark piano and guitars combine to create a poignant backdrop for the vocals. They give way to Chris, as he tenderly and wistfully delivers the lyrics to what’s another of Painting Of A Panic Attack’s highlights. rightened Rabbit have kept one of the best until last.
Three years after they released their previous album Pedestrian Verse, Glasgow based Frightened Rabbit returned recently with their fifth album Painting Of A Panic Attack. It was released on Atlantic Records, is a mixture of anthems and ballads. Mostly, though, anthems are to the fore on Painting Of A Panic Attack.
Just like the ballads on Painting Of A Panic Attack, they feature lyrics that are variously cerebral, cinematic, dark, insightful and wistful. Lead singer and songwriter Chris Hutchison, brings these lyrics to life. He’s a storyteller who breathes emotion and meaning into the lyrics. That’s the case whether it’s on the ballads or anthems. There’s hooks aplenty on the anthems, which will be favourites when Frightened Rabbit play live.
They’ve been doing a lot of that recently. That will continue to be the case. After all, Frightened Rabbit are well on their way to becoming one of the most successful current Scottish bands. That’s no wonder. While other bands spend years navel gazing, and bemoaning their lack of luck, Frightened Rabbit have not only made their own luck, but one of the best albums of their thirteen year career. That album is Painting Of A Panic Attack, which is an assured and accomplished album from Frightened Rabbit who are equally comfortable delivering ballads as they are hook-laden anthems.
FRIGHTENED RABBIT-PAINTING OF A PANIC ATTACK.
THE PICTISH TRAIL-FUTURE ECHOES.
In 2002, Johnny Lynch was a student at the prestigious University of St. Andrews. He was approaching the end of his degree course. Most students would’ve been thinking about the life after University. Not Johnny Lynch.Instead, Johnny Lynch began performing as The Pictish Trail in 2002. Later that year, Johnny began work on his debut album.
By 2002, the way music was being recorded had changed beyond recognition. Now it was possible to record an album with just a computer, Digital Audio Workstation and digital interface. This was what Johnny Lynch went on to do. Eventually, The Pictish Trail’s debut album was complete. It would be released in 2003.
Before that, Johnny Lynch graduated from the University of St. Andrews in 2003. Just like other graduates, Johnny had decided to head south. However, he wasn’t heading the well trodden path to London. Instead, Johnny headed to Anstruther in Fife, where he and Kenny Anderson, the soon to be King Creosote cofounded a new record company, Fence Records.
When Fence Records was founded in 2003, it was run by Kenny Anderson and Johnny Lynch. Originally, it’s raison d’être was to record and release mostly folk albums, by its two founders and their friends. This included The Pictish Trail’s debut album Pick @ Pictish. It was well received upon its release in 2003, and caught the attention of record buyers. So were King Creosote’s early albums. Scotland’s newest labels was going places.
A year later, The Pictish Trail released a new album Hot Trail. It was released in 2004. Again, the album was well received and critics called The Pictish Trail was one of the rising stars of the Scottish indie music scene. However, it was another four years before The Pictish Trail released a new album.
Meanwhile, Fence Records was expanding. Its roster expanded, and each year, Fence Record release more singles and albums. Fence Records also began organising events and festivals. In the early days, they were held locally. Overseeing the expansion of the label was Johnny Lynch.
Early on in the partnership, Kenny Anderson seemed to have decided to concentrate on making music. King Creosote became a truly prolific artist, who regularly released three or four albums each year. Then when he wasn’t recording, King Creosote was playing live. His star was very much in the ascendancy. Meanwhile, Johnny Lynch was running Fence Records.
By day, he ran Fence Records and at nights, he dawned The Pictish Trail moniker. Between 2004 and 2008, The Pictish Trail continued to make music. However, most of his time was spent running Fence Records. That was until 2008, when The Pictish Trail returned with a new album.
This was Secret Soundz Volume 1. It was by far, the best album of The Pictish Trail’s career. He had matured as a singer and songwriter. Critics agreed, and critical acclaim accompanied the release of Secret Soundz Volume 1. The album was the finest moment of The Pictish Trail’s career. Everything it seemed, had been leading up to Secret Soundz Volume 1. Surely, The Pictish Trail would return with a followup, so as to build on the momentum created by Secret Soundz Volume 1?
Two years passed before The Pictish Trail returned with a new album, In Rooms. Although technically the followup to Secret Soundz Volume 1, it was more a musical experiment than an album in the traditional sense of the word. The Pictish Trail had been challenged to write a song a day by one of his friends, and managed to write fifty songs. However, each of the fifty songs only lasts thirty seconds. They were released in 2010, as a 45RPM LP as a CDr. For fans of The Pictish Trail, In Rooms was an interesting musical artefact, and a reminder of what the singer-songwriter was capable of. He would return in 2012, with a new album.
By 2012, Fence Records had become a limited company. This made sense, as it was expansion plans continued apace. Its roster had expand, and Fence Records continued to arrange more festivals and events. They had arranged events in Glasgow and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Fence Records was a very different record company to the one King Creosote and The Pictish Trail had cofounded in 2003.
Four years after the release of Secret Soundz Volume 1, The Pictish Trail returned with what was essentially the followup, Secret Soundz Volume 2. Just like its predecessor Secret Soundz Volume 2, was released to widespread critical acclaim. The Pictish Trail’s star was in the ascendancy. However, a year later, his world came crashing down.
In August 2013, the news broke from Fence Records’ Fife headquarters. Fence Records Ltd. was no longer. It had ceased operations in August 2013, after ten years. The reason given was: “differences between Kenny Anderson and The Pictish Trail.” Then in a statement from Kenny Anderson, he said that he “would continue to use the Fence Records name with new projects to be announced in January 2014.” That proved to be the case. However, for The Pictish Trail this was a huge blow.
The Pictish Trail took the breakdown in his friendship with Kenny Anderson badly. They had been friends for long time, and since founding Fence Records in 2003, had released a lot of music and arranged many a festival. Now The Pictish Trail had to start again.
Most of the artists signed to Fence Records signed to The Pictish Trail’s new label Lost Map Records. It was founded in August 2013, and arose like a phoenix from the ashes. Since then, Lost Map Records has released a sampler and albums by Monoganon, Randolph’s Leap, Tuff Love, Kid Canaveral, Seamus Fogarty, Rozi Plain and Insect Heroes. Recently, Lost Map Records released another new album, the long-awaited new album from The Pictish Trail, Future Echoes.
For The Pictish Trail, Future Echoes marks the start of a new era. He hadn’t released an album since Secret Soundz Volume 2, in 2012. A lot has happened since then, with the demise of Fence Records and establishing Lost Map Records. Now with his new label up and running, The Pictish Trail’s thoughts turned to his first album for his new label Lost Map Records.
With his new label established, The Pictish Trail began to write a new album in his home in the Isle Of Eigg. Eventually, he had penned seven new songs, and cowrote Dead Connection, Easy With Either and After Life with Adam Illoh of The Werehome. These songs became Future Echoes.
When it came to recording Future Echoes, The Pictish Trail became a one man band. The only other musician that features on Future Echoes is Alex Thomas, who adds drums on Lionhead, Dead Connection, Who’s Comin’ In? and After Life. Production was split between Adam Illoh and Ben Jones of The Laundrette.
Adam Illoh produced eight of the songs on Future Echoes. The other two, Rhombus and Strange Sun, were produced by Ben Jones. Once the album was recorded, Ben Jones mixed Future Echoes. All that was left was for the album to be mastered, and The Pictish Trail was ready to make his comeback with Future Echoes.
For the first time in four long years, The Pictish Trail returned with his much anticipated new album Future Echoes. It was released earlier in September 2016, on Lost Map Records. Johnny Lynch a.k.a. The Pictish Trail is back with Future Echoes.
Opening Future Echoes is Far Gone (Don’t Leave). What sounds like the crackle of worn vinyl gives way to beautiful, melancholy strings. They’re joined by lumbering, crisp drums, that come courtesy of a drum machine. They provide the backdrop to The Pictish Trail’s hurt-filled vocal. Meanwhile the drums, bass synth, harp and strings combine. Soon, the vocal grows in power, as frustration gets the better of The Pictish Trail. “I never want to see your face again, she took the words out.” By then, one gets a sense that this isn’t going to end well. It doesn’t. Before long, there’s a darkness in the cinematic lyrics as The Pictish Trail sings: “oh lord, she wouldn’t stop screaming hello ahhhh.” This twist in the tale, is akin to listening to someone’s life unravel, and makes for uneasy listening.
Percussion and a jangling guitar combine on Lionhead. The rhythm section lock into a groove and with guitars and percussion, provide the backdrop for the vocal. Hooks aren’t in short supply, as this slick slice of indie rock unfolds. Soon, it’s heading into anthem territory. Briefly, there’s a nod to Big Country while The Pictish Trail the cerebral lyrics. They show that The Pictish Trail’s not just a talented singer and musician, but a songwriter whose songs are rich in imagery.
Drums are joined by lo-fi keyboards and synths on Dead Connection. They’re joined by The Pictish Trail’s vocal and harmonies. A vocoder and effects are deployed, on this melodic and catchy fusion of indie rock and dance music.
The Pictish Trail’s vocal on Rhombus is buried in filters, as a myriad of drums, beeps and squeaks punctuate the arrangement. Soon, synth strings and a crystalline guitar are added. The synth strings are reminiscent of The Blue Nile’s first two albums. That’s whre the similarities end though. However, the arrangement to Rhombus has an ethereal beauty, before synths add a funky backdrop and the drama builds. Still, though, vocal is hidden behind filters, which works and works well. It plays its part in a song where indie rock is combined with elements of dance and experimental music.
Half Life is a relationship song, where a droning organ provides a backdrop for The Pictish Trail’s soul-baring vocal. Disbelief fills his vocal as he remembers: “I went over to your house, you tell me I’ve turned into something you didn’t like, another competition you strive, but I’m the same as I’ve always been.” Soon, drums crack, while beeps and squeaks punctuate the arrangement. They join the washes of synths provide a backdrop for what’s one of Johnny’s best vocals. It’s tender, emotive and veers between disbelief to frustration and despair. “I’m terrified, I’m nothing, I’m terrified, I hope I never see you again, with your head in your hands and all these plans.” By then, synths buzz while harmonies accompany The Pictish Trail, and reverberate poignantly into the distance. Without a doubt, this carefully crafted ballad is line of the finest moments on Future Echoes.
A guitar, strings and drums combine with The Pictish Trail’s vocal on Easy With Either. Soon, it’s apparent that this is another slick slice of indie pop. Again, hooks haven’t been rationed, as keyboards, synths and strings join with the drums. Together, they frame The Pictish Trail’s vocal on what’s another memorable and melodic example of indie pop.
Who’s Comin’ In? is a return to the balladry of Half Life. Here, the arrangement is almost minimalist, with drums clicking as subtle keyboards accompany The Pictish Trail’s vocal. It’s tender, as he sings: “I won’t make any promises, curled up in a ball, I’ll pretend you can’t touch me surround me at all.” Soon, filters are added to the arrangement, as it’s panned and swirls around. It soon becomes understated, allowing the vocal to take centre-stage. The Pictish Trail articulates a sense of doubt and insecurity, before becoming edgy as he ad-libs. Later this insecurity reappears as he sings: “there’s always something creeping out of these, deep deep deep deep deep deep. Who’s Comin’ In? now now now,” on what’s another carefully crafted song which The Pictish Trail breathes life, meaning and emotion into.
A choppy strummed guitar opens Until Now. Soon, drums crack before the rhythm section and guitar accompany The Pictish Trail’s vocal. Uncertainty fills his vocal, before cooing harmonies augment the vocal. Sometimes, they add an element of drama, on a song that manages to be melodic, melancholy and joyous. It’s an emotional roller coaster. Especially as The Pictish Trail sings: “I’ve saved it all Until Now, to tell you how I feel, and exactly what is going to happen now that you’ve saved it all Until Now.”
Birdsong and a hesitant acoustic guitar opens Strange Sun. Soon, though, The Pictish Trail accompanied by a guitar delivers the vocal. It sounds as if his vocal has been doubled, with one vocal slightly behind the other. By then, there’s even a psychedelic influence to the song. Later, harmonies augment the arrangement, which features just drums, guitar, percussion and harmonies on this folk-tinged song. It’s something of a slow burner, which eventually reveals its melodic secrets, as it stays towards anthem territory. Belatedly, Strange Sun has fulfilled its early potential.
Closing Future Echoes is After Life. Drums and percussion join an acoustic guitar and synths. They provide the backdrop for The Pictish Trail as he hits the ground running. He delivers the lyrics to what’s another catchy and memorable song where indie pop and dance music are combined by The Pictish Trail. They play their part in a slick, polished and hook laden song. It ensures that Future Echoes on a memorable high.
Four years after the release Secret Soundz Volume 2, in 2012, The Pictish Trail returns with the much anticipated followup, Future Echoes. It was recently released on The Pictish Trail’s Lost Map Records, and is the first album The Pictish Trail has released since the demise of Fence Records. A lot has happened since then.
The Pictish Trail founded a new label Lost Map Records. Only once the new label was established, did The Pictish Trail’s thoughts turn to writing, recording and releasing a new album. That new album, finds The Pictish Trail pickup where he left off on Secret Soundz Volume 2.
Future Echoes features ten tracks lasting forty-six minutes. The Pictish Trail combines elements of disparate genres, and weaves them into a musical tapestry. To do this, The Pictish Trail fuses folk, indie pop, dance music and electronic. Other ingredients include indie rock and even psychedelia. They become Future Echoes, an album where ballads and uptempo side by side. Together, they create a what’s potent and heady musical brew. It’s akin to a journey on an emotional roller coaster.
Some of the tracks on Future Echoes are beautiful, catchy, joyous melodic and memorable. Others are cinematic, dark, dramatic and melancholy. Very occasionally the darkness descends, and on Far Gone (Don’t Leave) the lyrics make for uneasy listening. Sometimes, though, The Pictish Trail heads into anthem territory, and his hook-laden songs prove irresistible. Other times, he showcases his versatility on Future Echoes’ ballads. The Pictish Trail breaths meaning and emotion into the lyrics. These songs are a reminder that The Pictish Trail is a versatile and talented singer. who seems to mature with age.
With every album, The Pictish Trail matures as a singer, songwriter and musician. That’s been the case since The Pictish Trail’s recording career began in 2003. Since then, The Pictish Trail has released a number albums. However, nothing comes close to Future Echoes, where one of Scottish music’s best kept secrets, The Pictish Trail, comes of age musically and produces a career defining album.
THE PICTISH TRAIL-FUTURE ECHOES
After a six year absence, Glasgow’s very own Kings of jangle pop, Teenage Fanclub have just returned with their much anticipated tenth album, Here. It was released on the PeMa label, and is the long awaited followup to Shadows, which was released in May 2010. Since then, the members of Teenage Fanclub have been spending much of their time working on various side projects.
Eventually, though, the call came, and everyone returned to the mothership, Teenage Fanclub. That has been home to the Bellshill boys since 1989. This homecoming was going to be special.
The members of Teenage Fanclub were about to begin writing and recording their tenth album, Here. It was hard to relive that the band that they had formed in Bellshill, in 1989 had lasted four decades. During that period, Teenage Fanclunb had enjoyed hit singles, toured the world and released nine albums. Soon, nine would become ten when Here was released. Here was just another chapter in the Teenage Fanclub story.
It was in Bellshill, Lanarkshire, a small town twelve miles from Glasgow, that Teenage Fanclub were born in 1989. The nascent bandemerged out of Glasgow’s C86 scene. They had been inspired by West Coast bands like The Beach Boys and The Byrds. Another major influence on Teenage Fanclub were Big Star, who Teenage Fanclub would be later be compared to.
Unlike Big Star, Teenage Fanclub were a five piece band. The original lineup featured guitarist Norman Blake, lead guitarist Raymond McGinley, bassist Gerard Love, drummer and Francis MacDonald. Teenage Fanclub’s three principal songwriters shared lead vocal duties. That was the case on their debut album.
A Catholic Education.
Just a year after the band was founded, Teenage Fanclub released their debut album in 1990. A Catholic Education would later be described as a quite un-Teenage Fanclub album. The music was dark, harsh and peppered with cynicism and controversy.
Most of the controversy stemmed from Teenage Fanclub’s decision to turn their sights on Catholic church. For a band from a city divided by religion, that was a controversial move, and one that could alienate people. What made the decision to “attack” the Catholic church, was that Teenage Fanclub prided themselves on being apolitical band. The other surprise for a band who admired The Byrds, The Beach Boys and Big Star was the sound of A Catholic Education.
For much of A Catholic Education, Teenage Fanclub unleashed a mixture of grunge and heavy metal. The only hint of what was to come from Teenage Fanclub was the Norman Blake penned Everything Flows. It was a glorious slice of power pop. This was something that Teenage Fanclub would return to later. Before that, A Catholic Education was released on June 11th 1991.
Before that, critics reviewed A Catholic Education. Reviews of the album were mixed, and very few critics forecast the critical acclaim and commercial success that came Teenage Fanclub’s way. When A Catholic Education was released by Matador, the album failed to even trouble the British or American charts. It was an inauspicious debut from Teenage Fanclub.
Just two months later, and Teenage Fanclub released their sophomore album, The King. However, in reality, The King was a quickly assembled collection of tracks.
The tracks that became The King had been recorded once Teenage Fanclub had completed what would be their third album, Bandwagonesque. Quickly, Teenage Fanclub recorded nine tracks, including covers of Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive. Once The King was recorded, Teenage Fanclub were hoping this would allow them to escape their contractual liability to Matador. This could have backfired.
Teenage Fanclub owed Matador an album. If they accepted The King, then they had fulfilled their contractual obligations. There was the possibility that the album could be rejected, if Matador didn’t believe the album was of a certain commercial standard.
Fortunately, they didn’t. That’s despite covers of Madonna’s Like A Virgin and Pink Floyd’s Interstellar Overdrive. The King wasn’t exactly Teenage Fanclub’s finest hour. Despite this, Matador released in August 1991.
Reviews of The King hadn’t been favourable. Despite this, The King reached fifty-three in the UK charts. It was almost ironic. Very few critics thought that The King would even trouble the charts. Teenage Fanclub had the last laugh. Free from all encumbrances, the Teenage Fanclub signed to Creation Records.
Now signed to Alan McGhee’s Creation Records, Teenage Fanclub like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat, delivered the completed version of Bandwagonesque. It had been recorded at Amazon Studios, Liverpool, between 9th April to 12th May 1991. It featured twelve songs, were Teenage Fanclub came of age musically.
Just like previous albums, songwriting duties were split between the band members. Raymond McGinley wrote I Don’t Know; Norman Blake penned four songs; Gerard Love wrote five and cowrote Sidewinder with Brendan O’Hare. The only track credited to Teenage Fanclub was Satan. Teenage Fanclub were maturing as songwriters and musicians.
When it came to choosing a producer for Bandwagonesque, the partnership of Paul Chisholm, Don Fleming and Teenage Fanclub returned. They were responsible for an album that stood head and shoulders above Teenage Fanclub’s two previous albums, Bandwagonesque.
On Bandwagonesque Teenage Fanclub’s trademark ‘sound’ began to take shape. It had been influenced by The Byrds and Big Star. Byrdsian, jangling guitars were joined by close, cooing, harmonies and a melodic fusion of indie rock and hook-laden power pop. Seamlessly, though, Teenage Fanclub could switch between laid back and melodic to a much more powerful, rocky sound. This would find favour with critics and record buyers.
Before Bandwagonesque was released, critics had their say on the album. For once, critics were in agreement, and there were no dissenting voices. Bandwagonesque critics agreed, was one of the finest albums of 1991. No wonder, with songs of the quality of The Concept, What You Do To Me, Star Sign, Alcoholiday and s This Music? For Teenage Fanclub, Bandwagonesque was a career defining album. Spin Magazine went further, and named Bandwagonesque its best album of 1991. Things were looking good for Teenage Fanclub.
Especially when Star Sign was released in August 1991, and reached number four on the US Modern Rock charts. Meanwhile, Star Sign stalled at just forty-four in the UK. The followup The Concept, a rocky anthem, reached a disappointing fifty-one in the UK, but reached number twelve on the US Modern Rock charts. Teenage Fanclub’s music was finding an audience in America for the first time. Maybe Teenage Fanclub’s third album would find them cracking America for the first time?
That was the case. When Bandwagonesque was released on 19 November 1991, it reached number twenty-two in the UK, and 137 on the US Billboard 200. Teenage Fanclub it seemed, were going places.
Having toured Bandwagonesque, and enjoyed their newfound fame, eventually, Teenage Fanclub’s thoughts turned to their fourth album. This they would name after an album by one of their favourite bands.
Unlike most bands, Teenage Fanclub wasn’t reliant on one or two songwriters. Everyone contributed songs. That was the case with their fourth album, Thirteen, which was named after a song by Big Star.
The four members of Teenage Fanclub had all contributed songs for Thirteen. Gerard Love had penned five, Norman Blake four, Raymond McGinley two and Brendan O’Hare one. These thirteen songs would be recorded in Glasgow’s CaVa Studios.
When work began in October 1992, Teenage Fanclub had decided to produce Thirteen themselves. They had co-produced their first three albums, so felt ready to make the step up. The only problem was, it took six months to record Thirteen. This was quite unlike Teenage Fanclub. They usually recorded albums quickly. Maybe they were missing a co-producer?
If Teenage Fanclub had employed a co-producer, they would’ve been a sounding board for the band. They would’ve also ensured they didn’t spent too long on tracks, honing, polishing and perfecting them. That’s what seemed to have happened. Eventually, Thirteen was finished by April 1993. This left six months before the album was released.
Prior to the release of Thirteen, critics received their advance copies of the album. They didn’t like the album. That’s an understatement. Critics seemed to loathe the album. Reviews of Thirteen were scathing. That’s despite songs of the quality of Hang On, Norman 3, Radio and Song to the Cynic. For Teenage Fanclub this was a huge blow.
At least when the lead single from Thirteen, Radio was released in August 1993, it reached number thirty-one in UK. The followup Norman 3, was released in September 1993, but stalled at just fifty in the UK single’s charts. This was another disappointment for Teenage Fanclub.
Despite the disappointing reviews and failure of the single Norman 3, Teenage Fanclub’s fortunes were set to improve. When Thirteen was released in October 1993, it reached number number fourteen in Britain. This meant Thirteen was Teenage Fanclub’s most successful British album. The only disappointment was that Thirteen failed to trouble the US Billboard 200. This wasn’t the only disappointment for Teenage Fanclub.
After the release of Thirteen, drummer Brendan O’Hare announced he was leaving Teenage Fanclub. The usual “musical differences” were cited, and Paul Quinn, the former Soup Dragons’ drummer was drafted in to replace Brendan O’Hare. For Teenage Fanclub, this was a worrying time. There was one small crumb of comfort though.
In February 1994, Hang On was released as the third and final single from Thirteen. It reached number nineteen on the US Modern Rock charts. Little did Teenage Fanclub realise that it was the last hit single they would enjoy in America.
Although Thirteen had been the most successful album of Teenage Fanclub’s career, the scathing reviews hurt. They had spent six months recording, honing and perfecting Thirteen. To make matters worse, Brendan O’Hare had left the band. This was a testing time for Teenage Fanclub, as they began work on their fifth album.
For the new album, thirteen songs were written. Norman Blake wrote five songs, while Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley penned four each. These songs would become Grand Prix.
Recording of Grand Prix began on 5th September 1994. By then, Teenage Fanclub had decided to employ a co-producer, David Bianco. He became their sounding board over the next month spent recording at The Manor, Shipton-On-Cherwell. Just over a month later, on the 9th October 1994, Grand Prix was complete. Little did they realise they had recorded one of their finest albums.
When critics heard Grand Prix, they were in no doubt, the album was a minor classic. It veered between melodic and melancholy, became ruminative and rocky. Grand Prix literally oozed quality, with About You, Sparky’s Dream, Don’t Look Back, Neil Jung and I’ll Make It Clear showcasing Teenage Fanclub’s considerable musical skills. They seemed to have been stung by the criticism of Thirteen, and returned with the best album of their career.
When Grand Prix was released on May 29th 1995, it was a hit on three continents. In the UK Grand Prix reached number seven, becoming the most successful album of their career. Elsewhere Grand Prix reached sixty-eight in Japan and fifty-seven in Australia. Teenage Fanclub were now one of the biggest indie bands in Britain.
Songs From Northern Britain.
What made the rise and rise of Teenage Fanclub all the more incredible was that they had only been formed in 1989. Since then, they had released five albums, and were popular across the globe. By 1996 Teenage Fanclub were ready to record a new album.
Just like previous albums, the band’s songwriters got to work. Norman Blake wrote three songs and cowrote Planets with former band member Francis MacDonald. Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley both wrote four songs. These songs were recorded at some of London’s top studios with co-producer David Bianco.
Some of Songs From Northern Britain was recorded at Abbey Road Studios, while other sessions took place at AIR Studios. Other sessions saw Teenage Fanclub head to leafy Surrey, and Rich Farm Studios. Eventually, Teenage Fanclub had recorded their sixth album, which was released in summer 1997.
Songs From Northern Britain which was a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Britpop movement, saw Teenage Fanclub pickup where they left off on Grand Prix. It was another album of carefully crafted songs, including Start Again, Can’t Feel My Soul, Don’t Want Control of You and I Don’t Care. Despite an album that was variously cerebral, defiant, hook-laden, joyous, melodic, mellow, playful and reflective critics were undecided. Some loved the album, other loathed it. Rolling Stone which had been supportive of Teenage Fanclub, set their sights on the band. Not for the first time, were Rolling Stone left with egg on their face.
On 29th July 1997, Songs From Northern Britain was released. It reached number three in Britain, and became Teenage Fanclub’s most successful album. In Australia, Songs From Northern Britain reached number seventy. Elsewhere, including America, Teenage Fanclub continued to be a popular live draw. However, they sold more albums in Britain, than anywhere else.
Buoyed by the success of Songs From Northern Britain, Teenage Fanclub were keen to begin work on the followup, Howdy! It was the first album of Teenage Fanclub’s post Creation years.
After Songs From Northern Britain, Teenage Fanclub signed to Columbia, which was owned by Sony. At last, Teenage Fanclub were signed to a major label. They would’ve had the financial muscle and expertise to help Teenage Fanclub make a breakthrough in new musical markets. This included America, which had embraced Bandwagonesque. Since then, commercial success eluded Teenage Fanclub stateside. Howdy! was a new beginning for Teenage Fanclub.
For their Columbia debut,Gerard Love, Norman Blake and Raymond McGinley had written four tracks each. They became Howdy! which was produced by Teenage Fanclub.
After two albums co-produced by David Bianco, Teenage Fanclub decided to produce the album themselves. They were now an experienced group, who were about to record their seventh album. Howdy! was recorded at Rockfield Studios between November 1998 and March 1999. In the midst of the Rockfield sessions, Teenage Fanclub adjourned to the London Astoria for some overdubbing. Once that was completed, Teenage Fanclub returned to Wales, to complete Howdy! After five months Howdy! was ready for release.
Now Columbia’s marketing machine sprung into action, preparing for an October 2000 release date. Before that, reviews of Howdy! were published. The reviews were mixed, with some critics writing scathing reviews, while others praised Howdy! Especially, songs like I Need Direction, I Can’t Find My Way Home, Near You and The Town and The City. On the back of the mixed reviews, Teenage Fanclub made their major label debut.
Howdy! was released in October 2000, but disappointingly, stalled at a lowly thirty-three in Britain. Elsewhere, things weren’t much better. Teenage Fanclub failed to make an impact in America, where they were still popular. However, Howdy! failed to make any impression in America. Things hadn’t gone to plan for Teenage Fanclub.
Following the commercial failure of Howdy!, it came as no surprise when Columbia and Teenage Fanclub parted company. Teenage Fanclub were without a record label. However, it would five years before they released the followup to Howdy! Before that, they released a collaboration with Jad Fair.
Words Of Wisdom and Hope.
Following the release of Howdy!, Teenage Fanclub began work on a collaboration with Jad Fair, the former Half Japanese lead singer. They cowrote twelve songs which became Words Of Wisdom and Hope.
Most of Words Of Wisdom and Hope were recorded at Riverside Studios, Glasgow. Three songs were recorded in Finnieston, in Glasgow. By then, Teenage Fanclub and Jad Fair decided to co-produce the album. This could prove to be a case of too many cooks. The proof would be in the eating…by the critics.
Reviews of Words Of Wisdom and Hope were mixed. Some critics really disliked the album, and penned scathing reviews. Other reviews were mixed, with there seemingly no middle ground. Words Of Wisdom and Hope seemed to be an album critics loved or loathed. Record buyers had the casting vote.
Geographic Records release Words Of Wisdom and Hope in March 2002. The album wasn’t a commercial success, and both parties came away licking their wounds. It was unlikely that the project would be repeated. There was no appetite for a followup. A new Teenage Fanclub album was a whole new ball game.
It wasn’t until 2004 that Teenage Fanclub began work on their eighth album, Man-Made. Again, the album featured twelve songs with Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley contributing three songs each. Teenage Fanclub it seemed, was a bastion of musical democracy where each of the band’s songwriters got the opportunity to showcase their songwriting skills. With each album, Norman, Gerard and Raymond matured as songwriters. Given it had been four years since Howdy!, they had plenty of time to work on new songs. These new songs became Man-Made, which featured a new band member.
Ever since drummer Brendan O’Hare left after the release of Thirteen, Paul Quinn had been his replacement. However, Paul Quinn had left Teenage Fanclub, and was replaced by Francis MacDonald. He made his recording debut on Man-Made.
Recording of Man-Made took place at Soma Electronic Music Studios, Raymond’s House and Riverside Studios. This time around, Teenage Fanclub decided to draft in Portland based producer John McEntire. For the first time in eight albums,
Teenage Fanclub played no part in the production. Maybe this would result in a change of fortune for Teenage Fanclub?
Man-Made was well received by most critics. They were impressed by the quality of songs like It’s All in My Mind, Nowhere, Only With You and Born Under A Good Sign. Still, there were a few critics that weren’t convinced by Teenage Fanclub’s comeback album. However, things were looking good for Teenage Fanclub, who had decided to found their own label.
Rather than look for a new label in Britain, Teenage Fanclub decided to found their own label, PeMa. It would released Man-Made in Britain, while Merge Records would release the album in North America. Teenage Fanclub’s eighth album Man-Made, was released in Britain in May 2005, and reached number thirty-three in Britain. This was a slight improvement on Howdy! The only downside was the album’s failure to make an impression in America. Maybe things would be different next time around?
Five years passed before Teenage Fanclub returned with the followup to Man-Made. Gone were the days when Teenage Fanclub released an album every two years. These days were long gone. Albums no longer were selling in the same quantities. Teenage Fanclub had discovered that when they released Man-Made. Despite that, Teenage Fanclub headed back into the studio in August 2008.
When Teenage Fanclub entered the studio, they had a new member. David McGowan who had played on several Teenage Fanclub albums, was promoted, and became a full member of the band. Teenage Fanclub were now five.
The five members of Teenage Fanclub entered the studio to record twelve songs. For Shadows, Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley had written three songs each. Recording took place at Leeders Farm, Norfolk. Raymond’s Place, Glasgow and Rockfield Studios, Monmouthshire. With Shadows complete, it would be another two years before the album was released.
It was announced by PeMa that Shadows would released on 31st May 2010. Before that, critics had their say on Teenage Fanclub’s ninth album. The reviews of the album were mixed, ranging from favourable to critically acclaimed. Mostly, critics agreed that Shadows was a return to form from Teenage Fanclub. They had released an album that was variously beautiful, melodic and timeless.
On the release of Shadows, it reached number thirty in Britain. This meant that Shadows was the most successful album Teenage Fanclub had released since 1997s Songs From Northern Britain. Maybe Teenage Fanclub’s luck was changing?
It seemed that Teenage Fanclub were in hurry to record their tenth album. The five members of the band went away and worked on various side projects. However, they knew that eventually, they would reunite to record Teenage Fanclub’s tenth album.
When the call came, Norman Blake, Gerard Love and Raymond McGinley had written three songs each. They became Here, which was recorded at Vega Studio, near Carpentras, Provence and at Raymond’s place in Pollokshields, Glasgow. That was where Teenage Fanclub and friends recorded Here.
As recording began, Teenage Fanclub’s rhythm section included drummer Francis MacDonald, bassist Gerard Love and guitarists David McGowan and Norman Blake. Raymond McGinley took charge of lead guitar. Teenage Fanclub’s friends included harpist Helen Thompson and trumpeters Nigel Baillie and Robert Henderson. Strings came courtesy of cellist Elspeth Mackay and violinist and violist John McCusker. Producing Here, were Teenage Fanclub. Gradually, Here began to take shape. Songs were honed and eventually, Teenage Fanclub’s much anticipated tenth album was completed.
With Here completed, PeMa Records announced the release of Teenage Fanclub’s tenth album. It was due to be released in September 2016. Critics hailed the album Teenage Fanclub’s best album since Songs From Northern Britain 1997. So it was no surprise when the album reached number ten in Britain. Teenage Fanclub were back, with their most successful album in nineteen years. Here’s why:
I’m In Love opens Here, and is three minutes of joyous, jangle pop perfection. The arrangement is akin to a musical vortex, where the pounding rhythm section and jangling, chiming guitars accompany Norman’s heartfelt vocal. It’s augmented by close harmonies, as Teenage Fanclub roll back the years. What follows is a joyous, feel-good anthem, where there’s no stopping Teenage Fanclub. Later, at the bridge, drums rolls accompany a blistering guitar. Soon, Teenage Fanclub reunite as this joyous paean heads towards a crescendo.
Rocky guitar licks and drums rolls signal that Teenage Fanclub are about to kick loose on Thin Air. They’ve turned the volume up, and play with power and passion. Meanwhile, Gerard Love takes charge of the vocal, while harmonies accompany him. Joyously, he declares: ”Wake Up, I’m alive, one more day, yeah, I’m alive, think of the what they want and what they need.” Meanwhile, the rest of the band create a glorious, rocky wall of sound. So much so, that the arrangement almost distorts. It doesn’t quite, as Teenage Fanclub roll back the years on this rocky anthem.
The tempo drops slightly on Hold On. Still the rhythm section anchor the arrangement, as guitars jangle. They frame Raymond McGinley’s tender, heartfelt vocal as he advises: “Hold On to your dreams.” Occasionally, a guitar feedbacks. Despite this, there’s a much more mellower sound as Raymond sings: “I don’t hear much fanfare for the common man, we got lost in the mirror, but the mirror looks both ways.” Mostly, though, the message is: “Hold On to your dreams,” as Teenage Fanclub combine hooks and social comment to create sunshine pop.
Guitars jangle before the rhythm section create the heartbeat to The Darkest Part Of The Night. It features Norman on lead vocal, with the rest of the band adding harmonies. They’re augmented by strings, which fill out the feel-good arrangement. Later, when the vocal drops out, a shimmering, reverberating guitar solo is added at 1.54. It’s the perfect replacement. When the vocal returns, the guitar drops out, and this beautiful song continues to reveal its melodic secrets.
The tempo drops on I Have Nothing More To Say, where the arrangement meanders and flows dreamily along. Just the rhythm section and chiming, crystalline guitars accompany Gerard’s tender, thoughtful vocal. It’s a very different type of song to previous ones. Gerard is tired and troubled, and has of been worn down by modern life: “been awake to long, my head is overloaded, rust in bones, doubt in my veins.” His vocal is akin to a cathartic confession, as he unburdens himself of the troubles that torment him. Although very different to what’s gone before, it’s still a beautiful, carefully crafted song.
Still, there’s no sign of the tempo rising on I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive. As guitars jangle and chime, the rhythms section play slowly and deliberately. Raymond takes charge of the vocal, and delivers it tenderly. His vocal seems to float above the arrangement, while the bass bubbles, a guitar jangles and keyboards create a multilayered arrangement. Meanwhile, Raymond’s vocal dreamily sings: “I Was Beautiful When I Was Alive.”
A lone chiming guitar teases the listener as The First Sight unfolds. They’re left wondering what direction the song is heading? The rhythm section join with crystalline guitar in creating a jaunty backdrop for Gerard’s vocal. Teenage Fanclub seem to be heading into anthem territory again. This is definitely the case. At 1.04 horns are added and augment Teenage Fanclub. Gerard’s vocal is replaced by a blistering, scorching guitar, before the arrangement takes on a much more understated sound. Chiming guitars and the rhythm section accompany Gerard, before Teenage Fanclub return to their rocky side. They unleash one of their finest moments in many an album. So good is The First Sight, that this glorious slice of anthemic, feel good, pop is comparable with Teenage Fanclub in their prime.
Guitars jangle and shimmer, while the rhythm section create the heartbeat on Live In The Moment. Meanwhile, Norman dawns the role of agony uncle and advises “Live In The Moment.” Stabs of horn augment Teenage Fanclub, adding to the joyous sound. Later,an effects laden guitar cuts through the arrangement, before Norman suggests: “Live In The Moment, nothing this good can last forever.” Sadly neither can melodic slice of perfect pop which features Teenage Fanclub back to their best.
Just a distant harp is plucked on Steady State. It moves towards the front of the arrangement, as it meanders along. Drums are caressed, as a bass is plucked carefully and what sounds like a wind blowing can be heard. Raymond’s vocal is also understated and tender, in keeping with the rest of the arrangement. He sings: “wake my love, we’ve dreamt enough, so wake my love, the Steady State of life is calling.” Behind him, the mesmeric arrangement provides the perfect backdrop, to Raymond’s dreamy, hopeful vocal. Together, they show a very different side to Teenage Fanclub, on this gorgeous ballad.
As the rhythm section anchor It’s A Sign’s arrangement, jangling guitars and harmonies accompany Gerard’s vocal. Soon, a searing guitar cuts through the arrangement. It’s driven along by the rhythm section and guitars. By then, Teenage Fanclub are in full flight, and it’s a joy to behold. Byrdsian harmonies are joined by a crunch guitar, as the melodic arrangement flows along. Teenage Fanclub trade harmonies, while a bristling guitar adds a contrast, to a song where song there’s West Coast sound to the arrangement. It finds Teenage Fanclub continuing to roll back the years.
The bass plays a prominent role on With You, while hypnotic drums and a chiming guitar accompany Raymond’s vocal. He delivers another beautiful ballad. Midway through the song, a Hammond organ replaces the vocal. It might seem like an unlikely replacement, but it works and works well. Soon, though, Raymond’s tender, dreamy vocal returns. He’s accompanied by harmonies, before a meandering, chiming guitar replaces his vocal. All too soon, this heartfelt ballad is over, and all that remains is the memory.
Connected To Life closes Here. Just a guitar ushers in the rhythm section, and they play slowly and deliberately. Norman delivers the vocal on a ballad where country meets pop. He sings: “I just want to see you Connected To Life.” Behind him, the guitar feeds back, but is tamed and is sculpted into part of the arrangement. Meanwhile, Norman delivers a heartfelt vocal, promising: “I will not deceive you, I only want to please you.” As the arrangement meanders along, two things stays the same, the quality of the song and Teenage Fanclub’s ability to create memorable, melodic perfect pop.
Six years after the release of their previous album Shadows, Teenage Fanclub return with what’s without doubt, there best album since 1997s Songs From Northern Britain. Now officially a five piece, Teenage Fanbclub return with a carefully crafted album where rocky anthems sit side-by-side with beautiful ballads. These two sides to Teenage Fanclub, combine to create with an album that stands head and shoulders above Shadows, Man-Made and Howdy! Teenage Fanclub are back, and back to their best.
This is fitting. Here is the tenth album of Teenage Fanclub’s career. 2016 is also the twenty-fifth album of Bandwagonesque, Teenage Fanclub’s genre classic. It was reissued earlier this year. So it’s fitting that just a few months later, Teenage Fanclub make a welcome return to form with their long-awaited and much-anticipated tenth album, Here. It’s an album that oozes quality.
From the opening bars of I’m In Love, right through to the closing notes of Connected To Life, Teenage Fanclub never put a foot wrong. The songs are anthemic, beautiful, joyous, melodic and sometimes, even have a melancholy quality. Other times, the songs on Here, are dreamy, rocky and ruminative. Always, though, the songs on Here are memorable as Teenage Fanclub roll back the years.
So good is the music on Here, that it’s akin to a return to Teenage Fanclub’s golden years. These glory years were between 1991 and 1997. Back then, Teenage Fanclub could do no wrong. That’s the case on Here, which was released on Teenage Fanclub’s own PeMa label. It’s a welcome return to form, from are Teenage Fanclub who enjoying an Indian Summer in their twenty-seven year career.
Here finds Teenage Fanclub combining balladry, perfect pop and jangle pop with rock and even a hint of country. This flawless fusion finds Teenage Fanclub combining anthems and beautiful ballads on Here, where they roll back the years on what’s their best album in nearly twenty years.
EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER-BRAIN SALAD SURGERY.
When the time came for Emerson, Lake and Palmer to record their fourth album, Brain Salad Surgery, the trio were determined to record an album that they could replicate live. That hadn’t been the case with their their three previous albums. Something had to change, they realised. So, Brain Salad Surgery, which will be released by BMG as a two CD set on 30th September 2016, marked the start of a new era for Emerson, Lake and Palmer, whose career career began in 1970.
The Emerson, Lake and Palmer story begins in 1970. That was the year Emerson, Lake and Palmer was founded and they released their eponymous debut album.
Keith Emerson and Greg Lake first met at the Filimore West, in San Francisco. Both of them were at a musical crossroads. Keith was a member of The Nice, while Greg Lake was a member of King Crimson. Nether Keith nor Greg felt fulfilled musically. So, the decided to form a new band.
This new band would feature Keith on keyboards, Greg on bass and a drummer. Their first choice for a drummer was Mitch Mitchell, who was without a band, after The Jimi Hendrix Experience split-up. They agreed to jam together. Then the music press heard about this jam session.
Rumours started doing the rounds that Jimi Hendrix was going to join this new supergroup. That put an end to the jam session. It never took place. Jimi Hendrix had never been asked to join the supergroup. Mitch Mitchell meanwhile, lost interest in the project. This presented a problem. Keith and Greg still didn’t have a drummer. Then Robert Stigwood, who was then the manager of Cream, suggested Carl Palmer’s name.
Carl Palmer was another experienced musician. He’d previously been a member of The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown. At that time, he was a member of Atomic Rooster. So Carl was approached. He was, at first, reluctant to leave Atomic Rooster, which he’d cofounded. However, when he spoke to Keith and Greg he realised that he could be part of something special.
Having left Atomic Rooster, he became the third member of the newly formed supergroup Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They made their debut at The Guildhall, Plymouth, on 23rd August 1970. Then on 26th August 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer stole the show at the Isle Of Wight Festival. This resulted in Emerson, Lake and Palmer being offered a recording contract by Atlantic Records.
Ahmet Ertegün the President of Atlantic Records realised the potential in Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Here was a band who wouldn’t just sell a huge amount of records, but could fill huge venues. So, not long after signing Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Ahmet Ertegün sent them into Advision Studios, London.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
At Advision Studios, Emerson, Lake and Palmer recorded ten tracks. They became Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Although this was meant to be the birth of a supergroup, the ten tracks on Emerson, Lake and Palmer came across as a series of solo pieces. However, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were a new band, who’d just recorded an eclectic and innovative album.
Although many people refer to Emerson, Lake and Palmer as prog rock band, they’re much more than that. Their music is eclectic. They draw inspiration from a variety of sources. This includes classical, folk rock, jazz, psychedelia and rock. Some of the music is futuristic. That’s in part to Keith Emerson’s use of the Moog synth. The result was a pioneering, innovative album that would launch Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s career.
When critics heard Emerson, Lake and Palmer, they hailed the album as innovative and influential. On its release in the UK in October 1970, i Emerson, Lake and Palmer reached number four. Three months later, on New Year’s Day 1970, Emerson, Lake and Palmer was released in the US. It reached number eighteen in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. Ahmet Ertegün, the President of Atlantic Records had been vindicated. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were on their way to becoming rock royalty.
It was a case of striking when the iron was hot for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They returned to Advision Studios, in London to record what became their sophomore album Tarkus. It was much more of a “band” album. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were now a tight, musical unit. This was very different from Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which was more like an album of solo pieces. Tarkus saw the birth of Emerson, Lake and Palmer as one of the giants of prog rock.
Tarkus was released in June 1971. That wasn’t originally the plan. Instead, Pictures At An Exhibition was meant to be Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s sophomore album. This was a live album which was recorded in March 1971. It saw Emerson, Lake and Palmer interpret Modest Mussorgsky’s opus Pictures At An Exhibition. it was a groundbreaking album. There was a problem though. Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s management didn’t agree. They weren’t sure that what essentially a interpretation of a classical suite was the direction Emerson, Lake and Palmer should be heading. So, Tarkus became the followup to Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
On its release in June 1971, critics realised that Tarkus marked a much more united Emerson, Lake and Palmer. They were well on the way to finding their trademark sound. Gone were ballads and jazz-tinged tracks. Instead, it was prog rock all the way. Record buyers loved Tarkus. It reached number one in the UK. Over the Atlantic, Tarkus reached number nine in the US Billboard 200 and was certified gold. Following the commercial success of Tarkus, Pictures At An Exhibition was released later in 1971.
Pictures At An Exhibition.
Three months before the release of Tarkus, Emerson, Lake and Palmer arrived at Newcastle City Hall, in Newcastle, England on the 26th March 1971. They were about to record their first live album, Pictures At An Exhibition. This was no ordinary live album.
Instead, Emerson, Lake and Palmer had decided to adapt Russian classical composer Modest Mussorgsky’s Pictures At An Exhibition. This was one of the first times classical music had been adapted by a rock band. That night in Newcastle, just four of the original ten pieces in Mussorgsky’s suite, along with the linking Promenade were recorded, They were performed live as one continuous piece, with new parts written by Emerson, Lake and Palmer. These new parts linked Mussorgsky’s original themes, which Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s played with enthusiasm and energy. Despite this, Pictures At An Exhibition was nearly never released.
It seemed that Pictures At An Exhibition was fated. Problems with their management meant that Pictures At An Exhibition’s release was delayed. It wouldn’t be until November 1971 the album was released. However, at one point it looked as if Pictures At An Exhibition wouldn’t be released. Atlantic Records were reluctant to release what was essentially a classical suite as an album. This they feared, wouldn’t sell well. So the project was put on the back burner, Suddenly, it looked unlikely that Pictures At An Exhibition would be released. That was until Tarkus was certified gold in America. All of a sudden, Atlantic had a change of heart,
Rather than release Pictures At An Exhibition on the main Atlantic label, a decision was made to release the album as a budget priced album. Atlantic Records it seemed were hedging their bets. That seemed a wise move when the reviews were mixed. Rolling Stone magazine was far from impressed with Pictures At An Exhibition. Neither was the self styled Dean of American Rock Critics, Robert Christgau, Despite this, Pictures At An Exhibition sold well.
When Pictures At An Exhibition was released in November 1971, it reached number three in the UK. In America, Pictures At An Exhibition reached number ten in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s third consecutive gold album. A year later, three became four.
Pictures At An Exhibition was released as a budget priced album in November 1971. It reached number three in the UK. In America, Pictures At An Exhibition reached number ten in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s third consecutive gold album. A year later, three became four.
Just like previous albums, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were determined to push musical boundaries on Trilogy, their third studio album. Just like their two previous albums, Trilogy was recorded at Advision Studios, London. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were at their innovative best, recording progressive rock, but with a twist.
An example of this was the inclusion of Abaddon’s Bolero on Trilogy. Rather than the usual 3/4 rhythm a Bolero would have, it was turned into a march by using a 4/4 rhythm. Emerson, Lake and Palmer also pioneered the beating heart sound on Trilogy. Pink Floyd would use it to such good effect on Dark Side Of The Moon. So would Jethro Tull on A Passion Play and Queen on Queen II. This sound was first heard on Endless Enigma Part One. It came courtesy of Carl Palmer’s Ludwig Speed King bass drum pedal. Once again, Emerson, Lake and Palmer were demonstrating that they were one of the most innovative progressive rock bands. Their efforts were rewarded.
On its release in January 1972, Trilogy reached number two in the US. As usual, Emerson, Lake and Palmer enjoyed more success in the US. Trilogy reached number five in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in another gold disc for Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Things were about to get better for Emerson, Lake and Palmer though.
Of the three previous studio albums Emerson, Lake and Palmer had recorded, they complex, innovative, genre-melting affairs. Emerson, Lake and Palmer embraced the latest technology in what seemed like their quest for musical perfection. They also made use of overdubbing. This made their music difficult to replicate live. The band always felt they came up short live. So Emerson, Lake and Palmer set about recording an album they could replicate accurately live. This was Brain Surgery Salad
Brian Surgery Salad.
Recording of Brian Surgery Salad took place between June and September 1973. Brain Salad Surgery was a fusion of prog rock and classical music. This is obvious straight away.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer adapted William Blake and Hubert Parry’s hymn Jerusalem and then Alberto Ginastera’s Toccata. Greg Lake wrote Still…You Turn Me On and then cowrote Benny The Bouncer and Karn Evil 9: 3rd Impression with Keith Emerson and Peter Sinfield, one of the founding members of King Crimson. Keith Emerson penned Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression and cowrote Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 1 with Greg Lake also penned Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 1. These tracks were brought to life by Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their inventive best.
On Brain Salad Surgery, Keith Emerson played Hammond organ, piano, accordion and a myriad of synths. Greg Lake took charge of vocals, acoustic, electric, and twelve-string guitars. He also played bass guitar. Carl Palmer played drums, percussion, percussion synthesizers, gongs and timpani. Greg Lake produced Brian Surgery Salad, which was released in November 1973.
When Brain Salad Surgery, was released in November 1973, it became Emerson, Lake and Palmer most successful album. It reached number two in the UK and number eleven in the US Billboard 200. This resulted in two more gold discs to add to Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s collection. They were well deserved though.
There’s no doubt that Brain Salad Surgery was the finest hour of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s four album career. Brian Surgery Salad featured Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their tightest and loudest. Here was a tight, visionary band fusing prog rock, jazz and classical music. It was an ambitious, powerhouse of an album. Emerson, Lake and Palmer were at the peak of their creative powers.
This was obvious from the get-go. Brian Surgery Salad begins with the reinvention of Jerusalem and Toccata. Jerusalem becomes a dramatic marriage of electronics and rock, before heading back to its religious roots. However, Emerson, Lake and Palmer can’t resist the theatre and the track becomes almost wonderfully overblown. This continues on Toccata, another dramatic fusion of rock and electronics. It’s grandiose, futuristic, dramatic and features prog rock royalty at their visionary best. How many groups would have had the vision and bravery to open an album with a take on a hymn and then a classical piece? After that, Emerson, Lake and Palmer change tack.
Still You Turn Me On is a beautiful, heartfelt, soul-baring ballad. It’s reminiscent of Pink Floyd and shows another side to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. This was absent on Trilogy and makes a welcome return on Brain Salad Surgery.
Very different is Benny The Bouncer. It shows that Emerson, Lake and Palmer have a sense of humour. A fusion of vaudeville, pomp rock and pub rock, it teaches you to expect the unexpected as far as Emerson, Lake and Palmer are concerned.
The centrepiece of Brain Salad Surgery is Karn Evil. It’s four separate pieces that make up an prog rock epic. Originally, Karn Evil 9: 1st Impression, Part 1 and 2 were meant to be one song. The time limits of vinyl put paid to that. So, the song became two parts.
Emerson, Lake and Palmer kick loose from the get-go. They produce a virtuoso permanence, combining drama with flamboyance to create a prog rock powerhouse. Crucial to the song’s success are the bleak lyrics and Greg’s vocal. It’s that’s an outpouring of despair and disbelief. Then there’s a series of musical masterclasses. Keith pounds at his Hammond organ as if in frustration, while Greg Lake seems to have tapped into the spirit of Hendrix. His performance is otherworldly. So is the music. It’s sometimes futuristic, with a dramatic 21st Century sound. As for Carl Palmer, he won’t be outdone and adds a thunderous heartbeat. The result is a thirteen minute epic, that showcases Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their inventive, innovative best.
There’s another change in style on Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression. It sees Emerson, Lake and Palmer turn their back on the progressive, sci-fi rocky sound. It’s replaced by a seven minute jazz instrumental. Emerson, Lake and Palmer manage to make this work. They’re versatile and talented musicians who are just as happy playing jazz as rock. Later, they take a detour via Latin and rock music, as they showcase their versatility and undeniable talent.
Gone is the jazz of the previous track on Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression, which loses Brain Salad Surgery. It sees a return to Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s usual prog rock sound. It’s as if everything was building up to this track. Banks of synths and the distorted bass play important parts. Their raison d’être us providing a backdrop for Greg’s powerhouse of a vocal. Again, the lyrics are bleak. He’s like a seer, whose seen the future and doesn’t like it. Dread and despair fills his vocal, at what the future holds. Effects are added to the vocal, as if someone is trying to silence Greg during a track that’s a potent mixture of drama, emotion, music and theatre.
Having said that Karn Evil 9: 2nd Impression marks an end to Brain Salad Surgery, that’s not quite correct. Not if you’re holding the BMG two disc set ofBrain Surgery Salad which will be released by BMG on 30th September 2016.
Disc two of Brain Salad Surger features thirteen bonus tracks. They’ll be of particular interest to completists. This includes alternate versions of Toccata and the various parts Karn Evil 9. There’s also a instrumental of Brian Salad Surgery and first mixes Jerusalem and Still… You Turn Me On. Welcome additions are the original backing track to Karn Evil 9 3rd Impressio and When the Apple Blossoms Bloom in the Windmills of Your Mind I’ll Be Your Valentine. An interesting addition is the excerpts of Brain Salad Surgery which featured on a flexi-disc given away free with NME. However, there’s one thing that must be pointed out.
All of the bonus tracks been released before, and featured on the 2014 three CD box set. The only difference is the 2016 reissues have been overseen by Greg Lake and Carl Palmer. They’ve lavished great care and attention on this reissue program, including Brain Salad Surgery.
It’s a window into the inventive and innovative world of Emerson, Lake and Palmer. DuringtBrain Salad Surgery., Emerson, Lake and Palmer take the tracks in a variety of directions. Sometimes, Emerson, Lake and Palmer bowl a series of curveballs. You never foresaw what follows. Mind you, that’s what you expect from one of the most groundbreaking groups of the seventies, Emerson, Lake and Palmer. That’s apparent throughout Brain Salad Surgery two CD set. It was the end of an era.
Although Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s career continued after Brain Salad Surgery. they never released as successful an album. They released five further albums. 1977s Works Volume 1 were certified gold in the UK, Canada and US. Later in 1977, Works Volume 2, was certified gold in the US. Then 1978s Love Beach was certified gold in the US and silver in the UK. Neither 1992s Black Moon nor In The Hot Seat. However, Brain Salad Surgery. remains Emerson, Lake and Palmer enjoy biggest selling album. No wonder.
Brain Salad Surgery demonstrates Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their innovative and groundbreaking best. Here were Emerson, Lake and Palmer at their tightest and loudest. It was as if everything had been building up to Brain Salad Surgery. So when Emerson, Lake and Palmer released Brain Salad Surgery they were a tight, visionary band. Their fusion of prog rock, jazz and classical music resulted in an ambitious, powerhouse of an album, Brain Salad Surgery which features Emerson, Lake and Palmer were at the peak of their creative powers.
EMERSON, LAKE AND PALMER-BRAIN SALAD SURGERY.
KING CREOSOTE-ASTRONAUT MEETS APPLEMAN-LIMITED EDITION DELUXE VINYL VERSION.
Since 1995, Kenny Anderson has been a one man music making machine. He has released over forty albums under a number of aliases, including the Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra, Khartoum Heroes, Kwaing Creasite and Jokes. That however, is just part of the Kenny Anderson story.
Kenny Anderson is also a member of Kid Canaveral, and the Scottish-Canadian folk band The Burns Unit. However, most people know Kenny Anderson as King Creosote, who have just released a new album, Astronaut Meets Appleman on Domino Records. It’s available in a variety of formats.
As well as a the usual CD and digital download versions of Astronaut Meets Appleman, it has also been rereleased on heavyweight vinyl. There’s two versions, the ordinary version, and the Deluxe Version. It comes complete with a single sided 10″ LP which features the song The Long Fade. However, also included in the Deluxe Version, is a signed art print. There’s no doubt album it that the Deluxe Version of Astronaut Meets Appleman is a quality release. Astronaut Meets Appleman is the much-anticipated followup to 2015s Småvulgär, and a welcome addition to King Creosote’s burgeoning back-catalogue.
Quite simply, the King Creosote back-catalogue is a veritable musical feast, fit for a king. There’s plenty of tasty treats awaiting discovery within King Creosote’s back-catalogue. Most of these albums were released on Fence Records, which King Creosote founded in 1995.
By 1995, singer-songwriter Kenny Anderson was twenty-eight, and living in Anstruther, a small fishing village in the East Neuk of Fife. He was a familiar face within the Scottish music scene. For some time, Kenny Anderson had been contemplating founding his own record label. However, this was a big step and not one to be taken lightly.
Eventually, though, Kenny Anderson and Johnny Lynch of The Pictish Tail decided to take the plunge, and founded Fence Records. Most new labels would’ve been based in Glasgow or Edinburgh, where much of Scotland’s music industry was based. However, city life wasn’t for Kenny Anderson. Instead, he decided to base Fence Records in the place he called home Anstruther. Over the next twenty years, Anstruther would become synonymous with its most favourite resident, King Creosote.
By the time Fence Records had been founded, Kenny Anderson had adopted another moniker, King Creosote. Little did Kenny realise that King Creosote would become one of the most profile artists in the history of Scottish music.
Just three years after dawning the King Creosote moniker, Fence Records released its first album, Queen Of Brush Country in 1998. This was the debut album from King Creosote. It was released on CDR, and nowadays, is a much prized collector’s item. So are many of King Creosote’s albums.
This includes the rest of the albums King Creosote released during 1998. This includes Rain Weekend, Inner Crail To Outer Space, Or Is It? and Gink Scootere. By the time 1998 drew to a close, King Creosote had released five albums. He was a truly prolific and inimitable singer-songwriter.
As 1999 dawned, King Creosote continued to release albums with regularity. 1999: An Endless Round Of Balls (Parties and Social Events) was King Creosote first album of 1999. It was followed by Wednesday, Jacques De Fence and I Am 9, Fence Records’ ninth album. Soon, though, nine became ten when King Creosote released Planet Eggz. Just like all the other albums, it showcased King Creosote’s unique and often quirky songs, which were tinged with humour, hooks and social comment. King Creosote had come a long way in just a couple of years.
With the new millennia dawning, King Creosote seemed determined to steal James Brown’s crown as the hardest working man in music. Or Was It? was King Creosote’s first album of 2000. Soon, though, 12 O’Clock On The Dot and Stinks followed. This meant King Creosote had released thirteen albums in just three years. By then, King Creosote was maturing as a singer, songwriter and storyteller. His carefully crafted songs were beginning to find a wider audience.
G was the first album King Creosote released during 2001. It was one of the best albums the Fife-based singer-songwriter had released. King Creosote seemed to draw inspiration from a variety of sources, on what was a captivating album. Soon, though, King Creosote was back with a very different album, Radge Weekend Starts Here. This was followed by King Creosote Says “Buy The Bazouki Hair Oil.” However, King Creosote’s fourth album of 2001, was Disclaimer, which was another of his finest albums. 2001 had been a busy and successful year for King Creosote, having released five album and been busy playing live.
2002 would be just as busy. King Creosote released a limited edition, five disc box, Squeezebox Set. It featured Fair Dubhs, Favourite Girl, Whelk Of Arse, More Afraid Of Plastic and Losing It on the Gyles. These five albums meant that Fence Records had released twenty-two albums since 1998. They had all been released on CDR, but from 2003, things began to change at Fence Records.
For some time, record companies were watching the progress of King Creosote with interest. They were keen to add the singer-songwriter to their roster. Despite this, King Creosote wasn’t willing to turn his back on Fence Records. So Domino Records came up with a solution.
King Creosote’s albums would be released via Fence Records and Domino Records. It was a deal that gave King Creosote the best of both worlds. He was still signed to an independent label, while Domino Records had the financial muscle and expertise to promote and release King Creosote albums in different territories. Soon, King Creosote would be going global.
King Creosote’s albums would be released on CD, LP and as digital downloads in 2003 when Fence Records joined forces with Domino Records. In the short term, Fence Records continued to release albums on CDR.
During 2003, King Creosote released Now (Nearly 36), Psalm Clerk and Ideal Rumpus Room Guide on CDR. However, King Creosote also released Kenny and Beth’s Musakal Boat Rides in 2003. It was the first album to be released by Fence Records and Domino Records. Kenny and Beth’s Musakal Boat Rides was the album that also introduced King Creosote to a much wider audience. This was the start of the rise and rise of King Creosote.
While many artists would’ve concentrated on albums that could be released worldwide, King Creosote released several albums on CDR during 2004. This included Sea Glass, Red On Green, Three Nuns and Kompanion Çet +1 in September 2004. King Creosote also released Loose Tea On His Wynd, a limited edition LP. There was no sign of King Creosote slowing down. It was if he was making up for lost time.
King Creosote had released his debut album in 1998, when he was thirty-one. Since then, he had been averaging four and five albums each year. 2005 was no different. Balloons was released on CDR, and marked the end of an era. No further CDR albums were released. However, King Creosote was just as busy as ever.
Rocket D.I.Y was released on April 4th 2005, and immediately hailed one of King Creosote’s best albums. When Vintage Quays was released later in 2005, it was the thirty-fourth album that Vintage Quays King Creosote had released. That number soon rose to thirty-five when KC Rules OK was released on September 19th 2005. It featured songs penned between 1999 and 2003. These songs captured the hearts and minds of critic and record buyers, and would soon be regarded as one of the finest albums in King Creosote’s back-catalogue.
2011 was another busy year for King Creosote. He released his solo album Thrawn, and then collaborated with Jon Hopkins on the album Diamond Mine . It was released in 2011, and was later nominated for the Mercury Prize. This played a part in King Creosote’s music reaching a much wider audience.
This just happened to coincide with King Creosote hitting a rich vein of form. On April the 21st 2013 King Creosote returned with a rerecorded version of one of the hidden gems in his back-catalogue, That Might Well Be It, Darling, It was originally an acoustic album, but King Creosote decided to rerecord the album with a full band.
King Creosote spent six months working with producer Paul Savage at the Chem 19 studio, in Blantyre. Critics believed that this was time well spent. The newly rerecorded version of That Might Well Be It, Darling ,many critics felt, was the best album of King Creosote’s fifteen year recording career. However, wasn’t the only album King Creosote released during 2013.
Later in 2013, King Creosote released the album Sure and Steadfast. It was album that King Creosote had released to raise funds for the Scottish Fisheries Museum, in his home village of Anstruther. Despite being one of Scotland’s top recording artists, King Creosote hadn’t forgotten his roots.
From Scotland With Love.
Further proof of this came in 2014, when King Creosote released From Scotland With Love, which was the soundtrack to a documentary feature film directed by Virginia Heath. The film was commissioned as part of the Cultural Festival, which accompanied the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. King Creosote seemed to have embraced the From Scotland With Love project, and had written and recorded some of the best songs of his career. Critical acclaim accompanied the release of From Scotland With Love, which was heard by a global audience during the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
During the Commonwealth Games, a screening of From Scotland With Love took place on Glasgow Green, with King Creosote playing live. That night, an audience from the four corners of the globe were captivated and spellbound by King Creosote’s music. It was a far cry from the days when he was Scottish music’s best kept secret.
Despite releasing the most successful album of their career, King Creosote returned with another limited edition, vinyl release on Fence Records. 3 On This Island was released later in 2014, It may not have been as high profile a release as From Scotland With Love, but it featured nine carefully crafted songs. So did the followup, Småvulgär.
It was released in 2015, on Fence Records. Just like 3 On This Island, Småvulgär featured carefully crafted song which showcased the considerable talents of the truly talented trio. However, their next album, Astronaut Meets Appleman would see King Creosote return to the global stage.
Astronaut Meets Appleman.
Having just released one album, it wasn’t long before King Creosote began work on his next album. For the new album, King Creosote wrote ten new songs. They would become Astronaut Meets Appleman, the forty-sixth album from the uber prolific King Creosote. Recording of Astronaut Meets Appleman, King Creosote took place at various studios across Scotland.
Recording of the latest addition to the King Creosote songbook, Astronaut Meets Appleman took place between July 2015 and February. The sessions began at Analogue Catalogue in July 2015. Then the band headed to Gordon McLean’s at An Tobar, where recording took place between September and October 2015. To complete Astronaut Meets Appleman, King Creosote hooked up with an old friend, at Paul Savage at Chem 19 studios.
Paul Savage was no stranger to King Creosote, and had worked with them several times at Chem 19, on some of their best and most successful albums. This was no surprise. The producer and former Delgado drummer, was now one of the most experienced Scottish producers. He was sure to bring out the best in King Creosote, who made their way to the Blantyre studios.
When King Creosote arrived at At Chem 19, Kenny Anderson brought with him his trusty acoustic guitar, accordion, xylophone and synths. He would also play piano and add vocals. Joining Kenny Anderson, were the other members of King Creosote, drummer Andy Robinson and keyboardist, pianist and bassist Derek O’Neill. They were joined by some of their musical friends.
This included Sorren McLean who played electric guitar, snare drum and vocals. Gordon McLean switched between electric bass, double bass, acoustic guitar and tambourine. Hannah Fisher played violin and added vocals and Mairearad Green on bagpipes vocals. They were joined by cellist Pete Harvey, harpist Catriona McKay and vocalist Amy McDougall. Producer Paul Savage added drums and the sound of a ‘wind turbine; on Melin Wynt. Eventually, after seven months of recording at three different locations, Astronaut Meets Appleman was complete. Now it was ready for release.
Astronaut Meets Appleman was one of the most-anticipated albums of King Creosote’s twenty-one year career. Especially, as it became known that Astronaut Meets Appleman was one of the most eclectic albums of King Creosote’s career. The release of Astronaut Meets Appleman was eagerly awaited, as critics and record buyers awaited discovery of the delights within King Creosote’s latest musical feast.
You Just Want opens Astronaut Meets Appleman. Just a guitar is played softly, before the arrangement builds. Drums join a chiming guitar, tender harmonies and strings. They provide the backdrop for Kenny Anderson’s inimitable vocal. It’s needy and hopeful, as if he’s lived the lyrics. Especially as he sings: “when you need someone you cry on, in the depths of despair.”Meanwhile, the rhythm section provide the heartbeat to this widescreen arrangement. Instruments are dropped in at just the right time. This includes the swathes of lush cascading strings. They’re joined by a crystalline guitar and drums which never miss a beat. Later, a searing guitar solo, breathy harmonies and harp are added. Musical contrasts abound, on this multilayered seven minute epic which features a musical masterclass from King Creosote and friends.
Briefly, a hesitant cello plays on Melin Wynt. It gives way to bagpipes that dominate the arrangement. Meanwhile, the rhythm section underpin the arrangement as an acoustic guitar is picked. They set the scene for Kenny’s vocal; “don’t be the one to slam the door, for I won’t let you back in.” That’s obviously out of character: “with my track record, jaws will hit the floor, all that has to change.” Soon, Kenny’s vocal is pulled back in the mix, and reverb is added, as if he’s reflecting on the situation he finds himself in. As the vocal drops out, the bagpipes return, before Kenny’s reflective vocal is accompanied by the piano, rhythm section and his guitar. Later, the bagpipes accompany a maudlin Kenny, as the song heads to its conclusion, he sings: “we’re all set to die.”
Briefly, a hesitant cello plays on Melin Wynt. It gives way to bagpipes that dominate the arrangement. Meanwhile, the rhythm section underpin the arrangement as an acoustic guitar is picked. They set the scene for Kenny’s vocal; “don’t be the one to slam the door, for I won’t let you back in.” That’s obviously out of character: “with my track record, jaws will hit the floor, all that has to change.” Soon, Kenny’s vocal is pulled back in the mix, and reverb is added, as if he’s reflecting on the situation he finds himself in. As the vocal drops out, the bagpipes return, before Kenny’s reflective vocal is accompanied by the piano, rhythm section and his guitar. Later, the bagpipes accompany a maudlin Kenny, as the song heads to its conclusion, he sings: “we’re all set to die.”
Wake Up To This bursts almost joyously into life, with the rhythm section joining the strings. Soon, a joyous Kenny celebrates “he’s away for all of ten days…the girl from France dances on the tip of your tongue.” Behind him, the band join in this joyous, celebratory song. An accordion joins keyboards and guitars. As usual, the drums anchors the arrangement, while Kenny delivers one of his best vocals. Especially when he’s joined by harmonies and strings, as this anthemic track reaches a joyous ending.
The tempo drops on Faux Call, with the wistful sound of strings while Paul Savage’s drums provides a maudlin heartbeat. When Kenny’s vocal enters, it’s tinged with sadness and regret. Soon, he’s delivering a tender, soul-baring vocal. Meanwhile the rhythm section have been joined by acoustic guitar, banjo and strings. They’re the perfect accompaniment to Kenny’s vocal, which literally oozes emotion. Later, when his vocal drops out, a harp is added. It’s a masterstroke, and plays its part in what’s a truly beautiful, soul-baring ballad.
Kenny’s vocal on Betelgeuse sound distant, as a djembe and cello add a melancholy backdrop. Soon, though, Kenny’s vocal is moved forward in the mix and grows in power. Still though, his vocal is tender and tinged with emotion, as a chiming guitar rings out. It accompanies the strings and djembe as the rhythm section anchors the arrangement. Again, everything is added at the right time, including the keyboards. They help frame Kenny’s heartfelt vocal, before it drops out, When it does, King Creosote and friends get the opportunity to showcase their considerable skills. This they do before Kenny returns, and as a guitar chimes, has the final word on this slice of perfect folk-pop balladry.
Accompanied by his trusty acoustic guitar, Kenny steps forward and delivers the vocal on Love Life. Straight away, there’s a spring in his step as he reminisces about a femme fatale of his acquaintance. Meanwhile, the rhythm section underpin the arrangement as strings and harmonies accompany Kenny’s vocal. They create the perfect backdrop for a vocal that veers between joyous to cautious. Later, when his vocal briefly drops out, a chiming guitar makes a fleeting appearance. Then when Kenny returns, he and the rest of King Creosote seamlessly combine to create a joyous hook laden paean.
Peter Rabbit Tea is very different to the previous tracks, but finds King Creosote at their most inventive. They combine dark, almost sinister strings with a recording of a baby constantly saying: “Peter Rabbit Tea.” This is only part of the story. King Creosote deploy the rhythm section, keyboards, a harp and an accordion. Together they combine to create a track that’s variously cinematic, eerie but sometimes, joyful.
An lone acoustic guitar is joined by a chiming, reverberating guitar and piano on Surface. They provide the backdrop for Kenny’s urgent vocal, as the arrangement takes on a rocky sound. The rhythm section power the arrangement along, as guitar cut through the arrangement. It features keyboards, synths and harmonies that accompany the vocal as the song heads into anthem territory. When the song reaches the bridge, guitars are to the fore before there’s an unexpected twist. That’s the addition of bagpipes, which sit well in the mix. They might seem a strange choice, but they’re used sparingly, before King Creosote and their “invisible friend” kick loose, as they return to anthem territory.
Closing Astronaut Meets Appleman is Rules Of Engagement. It finds the tempo dropping, as a harp and strings combine to create a wistful backdrop for Kenny’s vocal. It’s almost maudlin, while he sounds almost defeated, as he lays bare his soul. Then at 1.46 the song almost grinds to a halt, before what sounds like a radio playing in the distant is accompanied by the harp. At 3.07 the harp drops out, and all that remains is a myriad of subtle sounds that meander along. Soon, all that remains of Rules Of Engagement, and indeed Astronaut Meets Appleman are the memories of what’s one of King Creosote’s finest albums.
That’s no exaggeration. Astronaut Meets Appleman which is King Creosote’s forty-sixth album, is without doubt, one of the best albums of a twenty-one year career. During that period, the chameleon-like King Creosote have become one Scotland’s top bands. Anyone wondering why, just need listen to Astronaut Meets Appleman.
It’s one of the most eclectic albums of King Creosote’s long and illustrious career. They combine elements of folk, indie rock, perfect pop and psychedelia on Astronaut Meets Appleman. It features balladry, paeans, rockers and hook-laden anthems. King Creosote are equally happy delivering ballads, as they’re heading into anthem territory. That’s no surprise. Kenny Anderson’s worldweary voice is perfect for the ballads on Astronaut Meets Appleman. Then in an instant, Kenny’s transformed, and is delivering hook-laden and rocky anthems. He’s Mr. Versatile. However, King Creosote isn’t a one man band.
Far from it. Drummer Andy Robinson and Derek O’Neill who played keyboards, piano and bass both play vital roles on Astronaut Meets Appleman. Their contributions can’t be underestimated. Nor can the contribution of King Creosote’s musical friends.
Especially the strings, harmonies and drummer and co-producer Paul Savage. He co-produced Astronaut Meets Appleman with King Creosote, and has obviously played an important part in the widescreen, multilayered arrangements. Each arrangement builds gradually, with instruments being dropped in at just the right moment. Paul Savage helps to ensure that each piece of this musical jigsaw is put into the right place. This is definitely the case, with each of the nine songs on Astronaut Meets Appleman making perfect musical sense. Sometimes, an unlikely instrument is deployed, including a harp or bagpipes, but they’re addition compliments the arrangement, and in some cases, adds the finishing touch. However, Paul Savage’s other contribution came at the mixing stage.
Rather than send the completed album to a mix engineer in London or New York, Paul Savage was asked to mix Astronaut Meets Appleman. That made sense, as he had played an important part in the Astronaut Meets Appleman project. Having placed their faith in Paul, he rewarded King Creosote with a masterful mix where the music on Astronaut Meets Appleman comes to life.
The result is an album that’s a fitting followup to From Scotland To Love, which was King Creosote’s previous release on Domino Records. Småvulgär which although was King Creosote’s previous album, was only released on Fence Records. Astronaut Meets Appleman was released by Fence Records in conduction with Domino Records. It’s a welcome addition to King Creosote’s burgeoning back-catalogue.
It now numbers forty-six albums. However, for a newcomer whose yet to discover the delights of King Creosote, where do they start in this glorious, veritable musical feast? A good starting point is From Scotland To Love and Astronaut Meets Appleman, which are a tantalising taste of the inimitable King Creosote, who after twenty-one years and over forty albums, are belatedly receiving the critical acclaim and recognition that their music so richly deserves.
KING CREOSOTE-ASTRONAUT MEETS APPLEMAN-VINYL EDITION.
ARBEIT SCHICKERT SCHNEIDER-A S S.
For the best part of fifty years, Berlin has produced many truly innovative musicians. This includes Can, Tangerine Dream, Ash Ra and Cluster. They consistently produced groundbreaking music which even today, is influencing a new generation of musicians. Since then, Berlin has consistently produced many more talented and inventive musicians.
Among them, are three talented, versatile and inventive guitarists, Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus. The three guitarists represent and celebrate three generations of making experimental music in Berlin. So it’s fitting that they recently decided to collaborate on a new album.
As Arbeit Schickert Schneider they recorded eight soundscapes which became their recently released album A S S. It was released by Hamburg based Bureau B, and finds the three guitarists incorporating and combining disparate musical genres, influences and instruments. The result is a fascinating and captivating album, where Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus put all their years of experience to good use on A S S.
The elder statesmen of the trio is Günter Schickert. He’s been active participant in Berlin’s thriving and vibrant music scene since 1964.
Originally, Günter Schickert started off playing the trumpeter in 1962. However, soon, he decided to switch to guitar and by 1967, Günter Schickert was known as a guitarist. By the seventies, he was part of the Krautrock scene.
In 1974, Günter Schickert self-released his debut album Samtvogel. Within a year, it was picked up by Germany’s leading label, Krautrock. However, five years later when Günter Schickert released his sophomore album Überfällig, it was on Brian’s rival Sky Records. By then, the Krautrock era was almost over.
Since then, Günter Schickert has released several solo albums, including 1983s Kinder In Der Wildnis; 1995s Somnambul; 2009s Mauerharfe 1989-2009 and 2012s HaHeHiHo. Günter Schickert has also collaborated with Klaus Schulze on the 2013 album The Schulze-Schickert Session, and then with Pharoah Chromium on OXTLR which was released in 2014. However, that is only part of the Günter Schickert story.
He’s also been a member of several important German bands. This includes Ziguri, GAM, No Zen Orchestra, Arumaruma and Feedbackorchester. Günter Schickert has worked with many artists and bands, and recorded a lot of important music during his long career. So has Jochen Arbeit.
That’s despite not being born in Berlin. Instead, Jochen Arbeit, who was born in 1961, moved to Berlin in 1980. That was when he joined joined the Geniale Dilletanten art group, who fused punk rock and Dada. However, by 1983 it was all change for Jochen Arbeit.
That was when Jochen Arbeit began touring the world with his instrumental rock band Die Haut. They went on to release eight albums and a mini album between 1982 and 1998. By the time Die Haut released their final album Springer, Jochen Arbeit had moved on to pastures new.
Jochen Arbeit had joined Einstürzende Neubauten in 1997. That wasn’t the only band he would join. In 2012, Jochen Arbeit joined Automat. This was just the latest in a long line of bands Jochen Arbeit had been a member of.
Still, though, Jochen Arbeit has found time to enjoy a solo career. He released his debut solo album in 2008. Fittingly, it was entitled Solo and showcased Jochen Arbeit’s talents. Since then, he’s been involved with various collaborations, including with Schneider TM. His collaboration with Günter Schickert and Dirk Dresselhaus on A S S is lust the latest.
Dirk Dresselhaus is the youngest member of the trio. He was born in 1970, and his career began in the late eighties. Between 1989 and 1997, Dirk was a member of various indie rock and noise bands, including the Locust Fudge and Hip Young Things. However, in 1997, Dirk’s music changed direction.
Like a lot musicians, Dirk Dresselhaus had discovered electronic music. So he founded a new musical vehicle, in Schneider TM. It allowed Dirk Dresselhaus to explore of the world of electronic music. Two years later, in 1999, and Dirk Dresselhaus formed the duo Angel with with Ilpo Väisänen. They’ve recorded five albums and collaborated on two other albums between 2002 and 2014. Since then, Dirk Dresselhaus has been busy.
He collaborated with Reinhold Friedl on the triple album Real Time. It was released in June 2014. However, the latest project that Dirk Dresselhaus has been involved with is Arbeit Schickert Schneider’s new album A S S.
A S S.
Having decided to record an album together, Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus, began work on what would eventually become A S S in Berlin, in February 2015. They would record eight soundscapes which have been influenced by each musician’s past.
In the case of Günter Schickert this is Krautrock; while Jochen Arbeit was part of the punk generation. Dirk Dresselhaus has flitted between indie rock, noise and nu-electronica. These musical genres, plus a myriad of different instruments would be deployed by each musician.
Recording of A S S began in Berlin in February 2015, the three musicians had composed eight soundscapes. They were recorded over a four month period, with each musicians bringing something different to the project. Günter Schickert played guitar and trumpet, conch and effects. Jochen Arbeit added guitar, balafon plus various ‘objects’ and effects. Dirk Dresselhaus who is credited as Schneider TM on the album, plays guitar, bass, mbira, drum pads and effects. These instruments are put to good use on what became A S S which was completed in June 2015. The result was a genre-melting album.
Elements of avant-garde, free jazz, industrial, Krautrock, psychedelic, punk and techno are combined with minimalist music throughout A S S. It’s an ambitious and innovative genre-melting album, where three generations of music combine their
Opening A S S is 37°C., the first part in a five part movement Fieber. Washes of guitars feedback, shimmer and drone. A buzzing sound cuts through the arrangement, before the drama builds, and a futuristic sound begins to unfold. Still, though, the drama is present as the elements of avant-garde, nu-electronica, experimental and post rock combine. Sometimes nothing is as it seems, as instruments courtesy of a myriad of effects. The arrangement roars, rumbles, feedback and drones. Sometimes, there’s an industrial sound as the drama builds. Later, the arrangement becomes otherworldly and futuristic, before it dissipates, leaving but a memory of a captivating and cinematic soundscape.
Seamlessly, 38°C picks up where 37°C left off. Guitars, objects, found sounds and effects are deployed, as the arrangement whirs, grinds and clicks. A droning sound emerges, as machine like sounds are to the fore. They’ve a mesmeric quality. So do the the slow, hypnotic drum. They come courtesy of a drum machine, and sit back in the mix, while a myriad of eerie, droning, whirring, grinding and clicking sounds provide a rhythmic accompaniment. It’s moody, dark and hypnotic, as the arrangement draws inspiration from the avant-garde, Berlin School, experimental, industrial, Krautrock and nu-electronica. Less is more, as the understated and hypnotic arrangement meanders moodily along, continuing to captivate.
Again, 39°C has an eerie, otherworldly sound. Soon, the machine awakens, and churns out a myriad of whirring, grinding, droning, buzzing and beeping sounds. Sometimes, a few crystalline sounds add a contrast, as the man machine stirs. Meanwhile, there’s moody sound and a sense of foreboding. Especially as the arrangement lumbers along, elongated industrial sounds grinding, whirring and buzzing. Later, there’s a futuristic sound, as sounds spew forth, before taking on a melodic hue as the temperature rises.
By now, it’s 40°C, as a dramatic soundscape unfolds. Sounds swirl; and a vortex of howling, chiming, jangling and crystalline sounds join with whirs, click, ratting and grinding sounds. They create an unlikely symphony, as a trotting, galloping sound appears and soon, disappears. Meanwhile, there’s an Eastern influence to the melodic and joyous arrangement, before the temperature rises one more time.
41°C is the fifth and final part in Fieber. Still, the chiming, jangling sounds are still present. However, the arrangement pulsates, grinds and whirs. There’s a nod to Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express as this musical journey unfolds. Drums occasionally click, crack and roll, while guitars chime, chirp and provide crystalline sounds. Meanwhile, the rest of the soundscape is hypnotic and mesmeric. Subtle bursts of a braying trumpet are added, while effects transform the dry sound of instruments. They’re sculpted into something new and different, that become part of a what’s akin to a moderne symphony.
As Acetyl begins to reveal its secrets, just a balafon is joined by a trumpet on Acetyl. The balafon which is from West Africa, creates a minimalist backdrop, while brief bursts of the trumpet are joined by a dark droning sound combine. It has an ominous sound, as the conch is added to the mix. Mostly, though, it’s the balafon and trumpet that play leading roles. They’re helped along by the nbira, which drones and resonates. Together, they create a soundscape that veers between dark and dramatic, to atmospheric and exotic, to moody and mysterious. It’s also hypnotic and cinematic. Acetyl is without doubt, one of the highlights of A S S.
Sounds chirp and repeat on Salicyl, before a guitar and drums join the fray. By then, Salicyl is heading in the direction of the dance-floor. The guitars are funky, but reminiscent of Michael Rother’s first couple of albums. The drum machine cracks and pounds, while a bass buzzes. Effects are added, while the guitar steals the show. At 3.33 the arrangement is stripped bare, and just a variety of beeps and squeaks remain. That’s the case right up to 4.00 when the sense of anticipation begins to grow. Soon, the arrangement explodes and man and machine are imperfect harmony, as they create a dance-floor anthem in waiting.
Säure closes A S S. Waves and washes of music flow in and out. It veers between dramatic, understated, broody and ethereal. Just like so many previous tracks, it’s truly captivating. The music shimmers, glistens, drones and pulsates. Sometimes, the music is cinematic, other times dramatic, shrill and futuristic. Always, it’s inventive and innovative, which has been the story of A S S.
That’s not surprising, given three groundbreaking musicians have collaborated on A S S. It’s work of Günter Schickert, Jochen Arbeit and Dirk Dresselhaus. They recorded the eight soundscapes and are billed on A S S, which was released by Bureau B, as Arbeit Schickert Schneider. The three guitarists are responsible for an album that’s captivating.
A S S is also an album where the more one listens to it, the more of the album’s secrets, subtleties, surprises and nuances are revealed. Nobody will hear everything during the first listen. That would be almost impossible. It’s an album that takes several listens to truly appreciate. Having said that, from the first listen to A S S, it’s obviously a very special album from a trio of multitalented musicians. Together, they’ve over 100 years of musical experience, and put it to good use.
Arbeit Schickert Schneider used an interesting and eclectic selection of instruments. They combined traditional instruments with electronic instruments and much more exotic and unusual instruments like a nbira, conch and balafon. This they combine with various everyday objects and a myriad of effects. These effects are put to good use throughout the recording of A S S. Often, effects have been used, and they transform the original dry sound. It’s then sculpted into something new, which becomes part of these multilayered soundscapes. They’ve been influenced not just by Arbeit Schickert Schneider’s musical past, but a variety of musical genres.
Elements of disparate musical genres shine through on A S S. Everything from avant-garde, Berlin School, experimental, free jazz, funk, industrial, nu-electronica, psychedelia and rock can be heard. So can Eastern sounds and a nod to Ash Ra, Kraftwerk and even Cluster. The result is music that veers between dark and dramatic, to atmospheric and ethereal, to exotic, to cinematic, moody and mysterious. Sometimes, the music can be melodic and occasionally joyous. Often, there’s a hypnotic quality to some of the soundscapes. Always, Arbeit Schickert Schneider’s soundscapes on A S S are captivating, inventive and innovative, as three generations of master musicians pool their considerable experience, to create a groundbreaking, genre-melting album that celebrates Berlin’s rich musical past.
ARBEIT SCHICKERT SCHNEIDER-A S S.
DJ AMIR PRESENTS BUENA MUSICA Y CULTURA-VINYL EDITION.
As BBE continue to celebrate their twentieth anniversary, they’ve been welcoming back some of old friends from the label’s past. This includes DJ, crate digger and compiler DJ Amir. His association with BBE began in 2007, when as one half of Kon and Amir, he released the first of three compilations on BBE.
The first was Off Track Volume One: The Bronx in 2007. It was a double album, which featured a truly eclectic selection of music. Each DJ’s selection featured on one of the discs. They then mixed their selection of tracks. This was perfect showcase for DJ Amir’s skills as a DJ. When Off Track Volume One: The Bronx in 2007 was released, it was a successful compilation, and two further volumes followed.
A year later in 2008, Off Track Volume Two: Queens was released. Just like its predecessor, itfeatured a suitably eclectic selection of songs that was meant to represent the musical melting pot that’s the borough of Queens. It was a convincing musical representation. So was the third and final volume in the series, Off Track Volume III: Brooklyn. It was released in 2010, and since then, there’s been no further instalments in this much missed series. Since then, DJ Amir has been kept busy.
Many record companies and DJs have been keep to tap into DJ Amir’s almost knowledge of dance music and hip hop. This includes Capitol Records, Shady Records and Pete Rock. However, much of DJ Amir’s time is spent DJ-ing and crate digging.
Just like most DJs, DJ Amir is always on the lookout for that elusive slice of uber rare vinyl. Many of these songs have provided inspiration for the various compilations DJ Amir has curated. This includes his latest compilation, which sees DJ Amir return to the BBE fold.
DJ Amir will make a welcome return to BBE on the 16th of September 2106, when his latest compilation DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura will be released. It’s available on vinyl as a double album, CD or as a digital download. Unsurprisingly, given the title, there’s a distinctively Latin flavour to DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Culture. It features fourteen tracks from the sixties and seventies. The majority of these tracks will be unfamiliar to most record buyers.
Rather than choose familiar tracks for DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura, the Boston based DJ has dug that little bit deeper and discovered obscurities, hidden gems and even a couple of unreleased tracks from Fito Foster. They’re a welcome discovery and addition to DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura.
Most of these tracks on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura were recorded in New York. That’s despite many of the artists being from the Dominican Republic and Detroit. Some had settled in the Big Apple, while others were just passing through. Some of these artists went on to become big names with the Latin communities in New York.
This includes Joey Pastrana and Louie Colon, who were regarded as superstars within the environs of the Bronx and East Harlem. For the Latin communities living in the two borough’s brownstone’s this was their music, and the music they lived, loved and danced to.
For many who remember the heyday of Joey Pastrana and His New Orchestra and Louie Colon and His Combo, then DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura would be guaranteed to bring back memories. They would revel in what’s a truly eclectic compilation.
Among the other names on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura, are Wayne Gorbea Y Su Conjunto Salsa, Chino Y Su Conjunto Melao Featuring Everybody, Dax Pacem Orchestra, Johnny Sedes and His Orchestra and Mike Hernandez Y Su Sonora Casino. These artists take the listener on a journey through Latin music. Having said that, two styles of music, Salsa and Guaguancó play a leading role on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura.
Two unreleased tracks from Fito Foster, Salsa Pt. 1 and Salsa Pt. 2 DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura. Both tracks were written by Fito Foster, and are a tantalising taste of an artist that very few people will have heard of. That’s until now. These two irresistible slices of salsa New York style, are guaranteed to get the party started.
Joey Pastrana And His Orchestra’s recording career began in 1967, and lasted until the late seventies. During this period, Joey Pastrana And His Orchestra released nine albums. This included their fifth album A Comer, which was released on Parnosa label in 1972. Opening an album which veered between salsa, bolero and cha cha, was El Pulpo. It’s a dramatic and horn heavy salsa, where piano and percussion play leading role. Together, they’re responsible for a memorable reminder why Joey Pastrana And His Orchestra were one of the so popular in New York during the late-sixties and early seventies.
Louie Colon Y Su Combo released a couple of albums during the seventies, including their eponymous sophomore album. It was released on the Delta label and saw Louie Colon Y Su Combo switching between various genres of Latin music. When it came to Tembleque, which was released as a single, the music headed in the direction of salsa. Quite simply, Tembleque is a joyous call to dance, that’s truly irresistible.
In 1970, The Orchestra Soledad released what was their one and only album Vamonos/ Let’s Go! It was released on Futuro Records. Opening the album was the Hector Ramos and William Corridor composition El Ritmo Soleda. It’s funky, soulful and dance-floor friendly, as elements of Latin and Cuban music are combined by The Orchestra Soledad, They create an urgent, mesmeric and memorable genre-melting track.
Back in 1972, the Orquesta La Moderna De New York released what was their eponymous debut album. It was released on the Amaral label, which only released two albums. This included Orquesta La Moderna’s debut. Their star was in the ascendancy, and the Orquesta La Moderna De New York were seen as one of the leading lights of New York’s Latin scene. Alas, when the album was released, it only found an audience within the Latin music scene. As a result, there was no followup to what was a hugely underrated album. One of its highlights was Picadillo.
Straight away, it’s apparent something special is unfolding on Picadillo. Soon, the multitalented Orquesta La Moderna De New York are showcasing their considerable skills. Elements of funk and jazz are combined on another joyous and sometimes hypnotic slice of salsa. Picadillo is without doubt, one of the highlights of the compilation It’s also a reminder of Orquesta La Moderna De New York, who sadly. never fulfilled their potential. However, even forty-four years after the release of their only album, their remembered fondly in New York’s Latin music scene.
Johnny Sedes was born in Venezuela 1937. That was where he served his musical apprenticeship. By 1969, the thirty-two year old was leading his own Orchestra in New York, Johnny Sedes And His Orchestra. That same year, 1969, Johnny Sedes And His Orchestra released their debut album Mama Calunga. It was released on the Fonseca Record, and allowed Johnny Sedes And His Orchestra to showcase his versatility and skill. They switched between descarga, mambo and salsa. One of the songs that stood head and shoulders above the rest was Mama Calunga.
Here was a song that had been inspired by the great Venezuelan orchestras that Johnny Sedes heard growing up. This had inspired the young bandleader, to forge a career in music. He played saxophone in his Orchestra, which delivers a musical masterclass on Mama Calunga, which is a reminder of everything that’s good about Latin music.
Another versatile orchestra were Joey Aponte and His Orchestra. They showcased their musical versatility on two albums they released during the seventies. Joey Aponte And His Orchestra’s debut album was Vamos A Gozar. It was released on All-Art Records, and featured Vete De Aqui. It’s another Salsa, that’s regarded as one of the finest moments in the career of Joey Aponte and His Orchestra.
Mike Hernandez Y Su Sonora Casino’s back-catalogue amounts to just a couple of albums and singles. This includes the 1972 album Dime Tu and its followup La Sonora Casino De Mike Hernandez. One track that doesn’t feature on either album, is Asi-asi Desarga. It was released as single on Fonseca Records. This Descarga single is something of a rarity. Copies are few and far between. So the addition of Asi-asi Desarga to DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura is to be welcomed. This is the opportunity to hear an obscure hidden gem that thankfully, has been unearthed by DJ Amir.
Ritmos Y Cantos Callejeros was released in 1970 by Cortijo Y Kako Y Sus Tambores. This was no ordinary collaboration. Instead, it was collaboration between two of Puerto Rica’s finest musicians, percussionist Cortijo, and timbale player, band leader and composer Kako Y Sus Tambores. The album was released on the Ansonia label and featured Yo No Bailo Con Juana. It also featured on the B-Side to the single Chiviriquiton. However, Yo No Bailo Con Juana a coloration between two of the Puerto Rica’s finest and most talented musicians, deserved better than that. It’s glorious and irresistible example of Plena, a musical genre unique to Puerto Rica.
Dax Pacem Orchestra feature twice on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura. Both tracks are taken from the album Amaral Records Presents. It’s an album of salsa, which was the Dax Pacem Orchestra speciality. One of the highlights of Amaral Records Presents was Bomba which closes Side C of DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura on a high.
Then the Dax Pacem Orchestra pickup where they left on Side C, with an vainglorious salsa, Oiga El Comentario. It’s another tantalising taste of what the Dax Pacem Orchestra were capable of. Alas, they never found mainstream success, and today, are only appreciated by a small group of musical connoisseurs.
By 1978, Wayne Gorbea Y Su Conjunto Salsa were ready to released their third album, La Salsa Y Charanga Con Wayne Gorbea Y Su Conjunto Salsa. It was released on the Disco International label. The album had a slick, polished and soulful sound where salsa was to the fore. One of the album’s highlights was Paranoia, which was penned by flugelhorn player Adnaldo Rivera. This soulful salsa was his only contribution on the album. Given how good a track this salsa was, Adnaldo Rivera it seemed, was concentrating on quality not quantity.
Closing DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura was Rogelio Tiene La Salsa a song from Chino Y Su Conjunto Melao’s third album En Mi Casa Latina. It was released on Latina Records in 1979 and proved to be Chino Y Su Conjunto Melao’s swan-song.Their recording career lasted four years and produced three albums. Rogelio Tiene La Salsa, which closes DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura, finds DJ Amir keeping the best until last on the vinyl edition.
After an absence of six years, Boston based DJ Amir returns to the BBE fold with a new and lovingly curated compilation DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura. It will be released by BBE on the 26th September 2016. There’s three versions available, the vinyl album which is a double album, the CD version and digital download. They’re the perfect introduction into the world of Latin rarities.
The majority of tracks on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura will be unfamiliar to most people. DJ Amir has eschewed the familiar for rarities, obscurities, unreleased tracks and hidden gems. He’s struck vinyl gold, several times on a compilation where Salsa and Guaguancó is to the fore. There’s even Plena and Descarga on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura. It’s a compilation where the quality never drops, and is a reminder that the sixties and seventies was something of a golden era for Latin music.
Some of the music on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura is funky, while others is jazz-tinged and soulful. Always, the music on DJ Amir Presents Buena Música Y Cultura is dance-floor friendly, and is guaranteed to get any party started.
DJ AMIR PRESENTS BUENA MUSICA Y CULTURA-VINYL EDITION.
SANDY DENNY-5 CLASSIC ALBUMS.
Sandy Denny was one of the finest British folk singers of her generation. There is no doubt about that. Sadly, her career was cut tragically short, on the 21st of April 1978, when Sandy Denny died aged just thirty-one. That day, music lost a hugely talented singer and songwriter.
Music was in mourning at the loss of Sandy Denny. She had achieved so much, in a short space of time. This included a brief spell with The Strawbs, before becoming the lead singer of Fairport Convention. However, Sandy left Fairport Convention in December 1969 to hone her songwriting skills. That was the plan.
Not long after her departure from Fairport Convention, Sandy decided to form a new band, Fotheringay. So in the early 1970, Sandy began putting together a new band. One of the first musicians she brought onboard was guitarist Trveor Lucas.
He had been born in Australia, but was now based in Britain. Trevor was now a familiar face in the British folk scene. Previously, Trevor was a member of Eclection. That’s when Trevor met Sandy Denny. The pair started dating in May 1969, and eventually, married in 1973. However, Trevor’s career began back in Australia, in the early sixties.
Back then, Trevor Lucas was a solo artist. He released his debut solo album See That My Grave Is Kept Clean in 1964. Then on New Year’s Eve Trevor boarded a ship and made the journey from Australia to Britain. That’s when he became a member of Eclection, and met drummer Gerry Conway.
Eclection were a folk-rock band, who were formed in 1967, and broke up two years later in 1969. However, by then, Trevor Lucas and Gerry Conway were firm friends. They renewed their musical partnership in Fotheringay.
Gradually, Sandy’s new band was taking shape. The final pieces in the musical jigsaw were two former members of The Poet and The One Man Band. Guitarist Jerry Donahue had moved from Manhattan to Britain, where he quickly became stalwart of the folk scene. This wasn’t surprising. Jerry’s father was big band saxophonist Sam Donohue. However, Jerry wasn’t inspired by his father. Instead, Gerry McGee, Earl Scruggs, Chet Atkins and Duane Eddy inspired Jerry, who in 1970, joined Fotheringay with Edinburgh born bassist Pat Donaldson.
By 1970, Pat Donaldson was a familiar face in the London music scene. He had moved to London in the early sixties. Since then, he had been a member of Bob Xavier and the Jury, Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band and the reformed Dantalian’s Chariot. Fotheringay was just the latest group the twenty-seven year old bassist work with.
With the lineup of her new band finalised, all Sandy Denny needed was a name for the band. She decided on Fotheringay, after Fotheringay Castle where Mary Queen Of Scots was imprisoned. With its lineup complete and a name in place, Sandy Denny’s new band could begin work on their debut album.
Sandy Denny didn’t waste any time recording Fotheringay’s debut album. She wrote four tracks and cowrote Peace in the End with Trevor Lucas. He also penned The Ballad of Ned Kelly. Other tracks included covers of Gordon Lightfoot’s The Way I Feel, Bob Dylan’s Too Much Of Nothing and Banks of the Nile. These ten tracks were recorded between February and April, 1970 at Sound Techniques, in London with Joe Boyd producing what became Fotheringay.
Once Fotheringay was completed, the album was released in June 1970. It was one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year. Critics and record buyers eagerly anticipated the release of Fotheringay.
They weren’t disappointed. Critics hailed the album a masterful debut. Sandy Denny was back, and better than ever. Her enchanting, ethereal vocal was complimented by a tight, talented band. They won not just the critics, but record buyers.
Fotheringay sold well upon its release in June 1970, and reached number eighteen in Britain. Good as this was, it wasn’t good enough for Island Records. Their expectations and Fotheringay’s differed. Island Records hoped the album would be one of the label’s biggest selling albums. That wasn’t the case. This resulted in Island Records’ pressurising Sandy to embark upon a solo career.
Sandy Denny dug her heels in. She was determined to continue with Fotheringay. So work began on what was meant to be Fotheringay’s sophomore album.
A total of eleven tracks were meant to feature on Fotheringay’s sophomore album. This time, Sandy Denny only wrote two songs. Trevor Lucas and Pete Roach penned Knights of the Road and Restless.Among the other tracks were traditional songs, a cover of Bob Dylan’s I Don’t Believe You and the Dave Cousins’ composition Two Weeks Last Summer. These eleven tracks were recorded by an expanded lineup of Fotheringay.
Joining the usual lineup of Fotheringay was Linda Thompson. She was going to add backing vocals when the sessions began in November 1970. The sessions continued into December 1970. Everyone thought that things were going to plan. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
In January 1971, it was announced that Fotheringay were no more. The band split-up and what would eventually become Fotheringay 2 was shelved. It wasn’t released until 2008. With Fortheringay now consigned to musical history, Sandy Denny embarked upon a solo career.
Sandy Denny signed to Island records, and went on to release four studio albums, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens, Sandy, Like An Old Fashioned Waltz and Rendezvous. They feature on 5 Classic Albums. Completing this box set, is Gold Dust Live At The Royalty (The Final Concert). 5 Classic Albums, which was released by UMC, documents Sandy Denny’s solo career. It began in 1971 with The North Star Grassman and The Ravens.
The North Star Grassman and The Ravens.
After Fotheringay split-up, Island Records were keen for the latest signing to enter the studio. Sandy Denny, Island Records believed, could become one of the company’s biggest selling artists. So Sandy entered the studios in March 1971.
By then, Sandy Denny was maturing as a songwriter. That was what she set out to do, when she left Fairport Convention. For The North Star Grassman and The Ravens, Sandy wrote eight of the eleven songs, including Late November and John The Gun which had been recorded for the Fortheringay 2 sessions. Among Sandy’s other compositions, were The Sea Captain, The Optimist, Next Time Around, Wretched Wilbur, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens and Crazy Lady Blues. They joined a rework of the traditional song Blackwaterside, Bob Dylan’s Down In The Flood and Charles Robins’ Let’s Jump The Broomstick. These songs were recorded over a three month period, with some familiar faces.
The recording sessions began in March 1971, at Sound Techniques, with Sandy Denny, John Wood and Fairport Convention’s Richard Thompson tanking charge of production. Just two songs were recorded there Blackwaterside and Let’s Jump The Broomstick. Then things were moved in-house and the rest of the sessions took place at Island Studios, in London.
At Island Studios, Sandy was accompanied on some of the tracks, by the rest of Fotheringay. Other musicians were drafted in when needed. This included Buddy Emmons on pedal steel guitar; drummer Roger Powell; bassist Tony Reeves; violinist Barry Dransfield and Ian Whiteman on piano and flute organ. Royston Wood and Robin Dransfield added backing vocals on John The Gun. Richard Thompson played accordion, bass, electric and acoustic guitar. His vocal featured on Down In The Flood. Harry Robertson arranged the strings on Next Time Around and Wretched Wilbur. By May 1971, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was complete. It would be released four months later.
Before the release of The North Star Grassman and The Ravens, critics had their say on Sandy Denny’s debut solo album. With its mixture of Sandy Denny compositions, and cover versions, it was a truly captivating album. Sandy’s vocals were compelling, as she breathed meaning and emotion into lyrics. Among the highlights were John The Gun, Late November, the wonderfully wistful Next Time Around and The North Star Grassman and The Ravens. That’s not forgetting Down In The Flood, where the interplay between Richard Thompson’s guitar and Sandy’s vocal is masterful. The only song some critics felt let the album down slightly, was Let’s Jump The Broomstick and Down In The Flood. Still, though, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was a hailed a musical masterpiece and minor folk rock classic. Sandy Denny it seemed, could do no wrong.
When The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was released in September 1971, the album didn’t sell in the huge quantities that Island Records had hoped. They seemed to envisage Sandy Denny enjoying the commercial success that Joni Mitchell was enjoying. That wasn’t to be. However, Sandy Denny enjoyed the same critical acclaim that her American counterpart was enjoying.
There was no rest for Sandy Denny, after she returned from a tour to promote the release of her debut album, The North Star Grassman and The Ravens. Two weeks later, in November 1971, Sandy began recording his sophomore album Sandy at Sound Techniques and Island Studios.
Sandy had been busy, and written eight new songs. This included It’ll Take a Long Time, Sweet Rosemary, For Nobody to Hear, Listen, Listen, The Lady, Bushes and Briars, It Suits Me Well and The Music Weaver. These songs joined covers of Bob Dylan’s Tomorrow Is A Long Time, and the traditional song The Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood, which Richard Fariña had written lyrics for. These songs were recorded by a familiar faces and new names.
The first change was that Trveor Lucas had been hired to produce Sandy. John Wood who had played such an important part in the sound and success of The North Star Grassman and The Ravens was relegated to engineer. Similarly, Richard Thompson’s only part in Sandy was playing on five songs. However, one thing hadn’t changed, where the studios that were used.
Just like with Sandy Denny’s debut album, recording took place at Sound Techniques and Island Studios. The first sessions took place in November 1971 Sandy was joined by British folk royalty, including Fotheringay bassist Pat Donaldson. He was joined by four members of Fairport Convention, Richard Thompson on mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, vocalist Linda Thomson, violinist Dave Swarbrick and Trevor Lucas on acoustic guitar. They were joined by some new names.
This included The Flying Burrito Brothers’ pedal steel player Sneaky Pete Kleinow. He was joined by organist and pianist John Bundrick. Both men played on It’ll Take A Long Time and Tomorrow Is A Long Time. The final member of Sandy’s band was John Kirkpatrick who played concertina on It Suits Me Well. Now the recording could get underway.
With her all-star band for company, Sandy recorded the ten songs over five sessions help during November 1971 and then in April and May 1972. Once the ten songs were recorded, the strings and horns were added.
Harry Robertson was brought in to arrange the strings on Listen, Listen, The Lady and The Music Weave. One change was the addition of on one of the tracks on Sandy. So, Allen Toussaint was drafted in to arrange the horns on For Nobody to Hear. Rather than travel to Britain, Allen Toussaint recorded the horn section at the Deep South Studio in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Once the strings and horns were added, and Sandy was mixed and mastered, the album was ready for release.
Before that, critics received their advance copy of Sandy. The promotion of Trevor Lucas to the position of producer had paid off. He managed to combine the two sides of Sandy Denny’s music. This was the traditional folk sound, and the more modern folk rock sound. Part of this was in the choice of instruments. Traditional instruments like a mandolin and acoustic guitar harked back to folk music’s past; while the pedal steel and Hammond organ were its future. However, key to the success of Sandy were Sandy’s skills as a singer and songwriter.
Some of Sandy’s finest moments were on Listen, Listen, where strings and a mandolin accompany her vocals, and on The Lady, where Sandy delivers a heartfelt vocal. Then on Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood, the lushest of strings provide the perfect backdrop for Sandy. It was a similar case with the horns on For Nobody to Hear. Bob Dylan’s oft-covered Tomorrow Is A Long Time takes on new meaning thanks on Sandy. Critics were calling Sandy a minor classic. Surely the album would bring commercial success Sandy Denny’s way?
Sadly, it wasn’t to be. When Sandy was released in September 1972, history repeated itself. Sandy was the commercial success that Island Records were hoping for. Again, Sandy Denny had failed to find mainstream success. It was a huge disappointment for Sandy, and it would nearly two years before she returned with her third album Like An Old Fashioned Waltz.
Like An Old Fashioned Waltz.
After returning from a tour where she was promoting her sophomore album Sandy, Island Records wanted Sandy Denny to head back into the studio. The recording then touring schedule was relentless. However, the tour gave Sandy time to think.
She decided that she wanted to make her impression musically. Sandy Denny had been rubbing shoulders with two Britain’s biggest musical exports, Led Zeppelin and The Who. She had performed with both bands, and seeing how the other half lived, decided that she wanted to enjoy a taste of the commercial success both bands were enjoying. This was music to executives at Island Records’ ears. However, Sandy was disappointed by the commercial failure of her first two albums. It seemed folk rock wasn’t going to make Sandy rich. So Sandy had decided to broaden her appeal.
In her heart of hearts, Sandy Denny knew her music had to change if it was to appeal to a much wider audience. So for her third album Like An Old Fashioned Waltz, Sandy decided to make some changes. Elements of pop and jazz would join her usual folk rock sound on her next album, Like An Old Fashioned Waltz. Despite deciding to change direction musically, Sandy decided to stick with Trevor Lucas who had produced Sandy.
It would’ve been awkward if Sandy Denny decided to change producer, as Trevor Lucas and Sandy were married during 1973. The only change Sandy made, was to bring John Wood back as co-producer. They would co-produce Like An Old Fashioned Waltz in London and Los Angeles.
For Like An Old Fashioned Waltz, Sandy Denny had written eight new sings. The only cover versions were Doris and Fred Fisher’s Whispering Grass and Until The Real Thing Comes Along Sammy Cahn, Saul Chaplin and L.E. Freeman. Sandy remembered them from her father’s record collection, and gave them a jazzy makeover. These songs were recorded in Sound Techniques and A&M Studios, Los Angeles, between May and August 1973. Again, the great and good folk were present. Sandy Denny was joined by former Fotheringay bassist Pat Donaldson, and six
members of her former group Fairport Convention. This included Richard Thompson on mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, guitarist Jerry Donahue, bassist Dave Pegg, drummer Dave Mattacks, violinist Dave Swarbrick and Trevor Lucas on acoustic guitar. They were joined by some old faces and new names.
The old face was John Bundrick, who played on Sandy. This time around, he played organ, piano and clavinet. New names included bassist Danny Thompson, who had previously worked with Nick Drake and John Martyn. Joining Danny Thompson was drummer Gerry Conway and saxophonist Alan Skidmore. Sandy’s band was shaping up nicely. Other new names included Diz Disley on acoustic guitar; organist Jean Roussel and pianist Ian Armit. They were part of a band that spent three months recording Like An Old Fashioned Waltz in L.A. and London. The album was completed in August 1973. This meant that Like An Old Fashioned Waltz would be released in late 1973. Or it should have been.
That was if Sandy Denny hadn’t dropped a bombshell. She was rejoining Fairport Convention. From Autumn 1973 to June 1974, Sandy toured with Fairport Convention. Eventually, Island Records scheduled the release of An Old Fashioned Waltz for June 1974.
When critics heard An Old Fashioned Waltz, they were struck by what was a very personal album. Many of the songs dealt with things that preoccupied and worried Sandy Denny. This included everything from loss and loneliness, the changing of the season, a fear of the dark and ironically, the passing of time. Like An Old Fashioned Waltz was a very different album from her two previous albums. Jazz and pop stylings featured on an album where the lushest of strings joined a subtle piano in creating a ruminative and wistful album. Highlights included the album opener Solo, Friends, Dark The Night, At the End Of The Day and No End, which gave some insight into who Sandy Denny was as a person. However, Like An Old Fashioned Waltz divided the opinion of critics.
While some reviews were positive, the usual suspects like self-styled Dean of American Rock Critics wasn’t impressed. In his Village Voice review he called Like An Old Fashioned Waltz a “slugging album.” Other critics took a more favourable view of Like An Old Fashioned Waltz. Some felt this was the album that would change Sandy Denny’s fortunes.
It wasn’t to be. When Like An Old Fashioned Waltz was released in June 1974, commercial success eluded the album. Whispering Grass was chosen as the lead single, and was released in 1973. This was a strange choice, as it wasn’t one of the stronger songs on the album. Unsurprisingly, it failed to catch the attention of record buyers. Worse was to come when the release of Like an Old Fashioned Waltz as a single was cancelled. For Sandy Denny, her dreams of becoming one of the biggest names in music had come to nothing. So, Sandy rejoined Fairport Convention for the third and final time.
Sandy embarked upon a world tour with Fairport Convention. Trevor Lucas, Sandy’s husband had also rejoined Fairport Convention. For the time being, her solo career was on hold. Then as 1975 drew to a close, Sandy’s thoughts turned to her solo career, and her fourth album Rendezvous.
As 1975 gave way to 1976, Sandy began writing Rendezvous. She penned Gold Dust, Take Me Away, One Way Donkey Ride, I’m A Dreamer, All Our Days and No More Sad Refrains. The other three songs on Rendezvous were cover versions. This included Richard Thompson’s I Wish I Was a Fool For You (For Shame of Doing Wrong); Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s Candle In The Wind and Jack Rhodes and Dick Reynolds’ Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Recording of these songs began in April 1976.
By then, Sandy Denny and Trevor Lucas had decided to try one more time, to move Sandy’s music towards the mainstream. This would mean Rendezvous would feature a contemporary rock sound. Rendezvous was recorded between April and June 1976 at Island Studios Basing Street and Hammersmith; CBS Studios in London; Strawberry Studios in Stockport and Sound Techniques in Chelsea, London. Accompanying Sandy was a band the featured over thirty musicians and backing vocalists.
This included Sandy Denny’s former colleagues in Fairport Convention, guitarist Jerry Donahue and Richard Thompson, bassist Dave Pegg, drummer Dave Mattacks and Trevor Lucas on acoustic guitar. They were joined reggae guitarist Junior Murvin, John Bundrick on synths and piano; Steve Winwood on organ, piano and clarinet and former Fotheringay bassist Pat Donaldson. Adding backing vocals were Benny Gallagher and Graham Lyle; Kay Garner and Clare Torry; Sue Glover and Sunny Leslie. Even The Silver Band made a guest appearance on Silver Threads and Golden Needles. Much of Rendezvous had been recorded between 23rd of April and 7th of June 1976 at Basing Street and Island Studios.
When the everyone arrived at the studio, Harry Robertson had arranged the strings on Candle In The Wind, I’m a Dreamer and All Our Days. Steve Gregory had arranged the horns on Take Me Away. Even The Silver Band’s appearance on Silver Threads and Golden Needles required the Robert Kirby to be brought onboard. John Wood again, returned to the role of engineer as Trevor Lucas produced Rendezvous. Now the sessions began. Straight away, there was a problem.
During these sessions, Sandy Denny’s voice no longer had neither the same purity nor ethereal quality. During the Fairport Convention tour, she had been drinking and smoking heavily. Eventually, this took its toll. However, still Sandy could still unleash a powerful vocal whilst always in control, and could breath life, meaning and emotion into lyrics. Sandy was still a great singer and storyteller. She recorded her parts, and took her leave. Little did Sandy know she would never enter a studio again.
Despite Sandy Denny having recorded her vocals, Rendezvous was still not complete. Another session took place between the 9th and 18th of June 1976. By then,Trveor Lucas was at the overdubbing stage. He added layers of string, and also overdubbed layer after layer of backing vocals and instruments. This would prove controversial.
With the album completed in July 1976, the original album title was Gold Dust. The release date was scheduled for October 1976. However, the release date kept being postponed. When the album was eventually released in May 1977, the album was called Rendezvous. It was an album that didn’t win over critics.
Many critics felt Rendezvous had been overproduced. This was a result of Trevor Lucas overdubbing of layers of strings, backing vocals and instruments. There were too many strings, backing vocalist and the lead guitars threatened to overpower Sandy’s vocals. That was a great shame, given the quality of Sandy’s songwriting, and vocals. If Trevor Lucas had taken a less is more approach, Rendezvous would’ve been a much better album. However, it was not without some fine moments.
Among them, where Gold Dust took on a Caribbean influence. Take Me Away and I’m A Dreamer became soulful torch songs. All Our Days was a seven minute pastoral epic, which seemed to draw inspiration from Vaughan Williams. I’m A Dreamer, All Our Days and No More Sad Refrains all showcased Sandy Denny’s talents as a singer and songwriter. However, when Rendezvous was released in May 1977, it was to mixed reviews.
When Rendezvous was belatedly released, the album passed record buyers by. It became Sandy Denny’s least successful album. The dream was almost over.
Not long after the release of Rendezvous, Island Records quietly dropped Sandy Denny. Despite being without a record label, she went ahead with plans to record a live album, Gold Dust.
After the release of Rendezvous, Sandy Denny headed out on tour to promote the album. The last date on the tour was at the Royalty Theatre in London on 27th November 1977. That night the tapes rolled.
Sandy Denny accompanied by her band, worked their way through the seventeen songs. Closing the set was a spine-tingling version of one of Sandy’s best songs Who Knows Where the Time Goes? That proved to a poignant way to end what was Sandy’s last public performance was on Gold Dust, which was released until 1998. It features on 5 Classic Albums, which was recently released by UMC and documents Sandy Denny’s solo career.
After Rendezvous failed commercially, Island Records dropped Sandy. She was already drinking heavily, smoking and snorting cocaine. Her behaviour became erratic. Sandy was also suffering from severe headaches. So a doctor prescribed a distalgesic. However, Sandy continued to drink. Whether this played a part in a fall she had in late March 1978 is unknown. What we know, is that tragedy struck on 17th April 1978.
That night, Sandy Denny was admitted to the Atkinson Morley Hospital in Wimbledon. She fell into a coma, and four days later, on 21st April 1978, Sandy Denny died. The cause of Sandy’s death was a brain haemorrhage and blunt force trauma. It’s likely that when Sandy Denny fell, this played a contributory factor in her death. Tragically, Sandy Denny was only thirty-one. That day, British folk music lost its greatest ever folk singer, Sandy Denny,
SANDY DENNY-5 CLASSIC ALBUMS.
RAY PRICE-ANOTHER BRIDGE TO BURN, TOUCH MY HEART, DANNY BOY AND TAKE ME AS I AM.
It was never Ray Price’s intention to become a country singer. If his mother and step-father had their way, Ray Price would’ve followed in their footsteps and become a fashion designer. However, the world of couture didn’t appeal to Ray Price. Instead, he decided to head to college, to study to become a veterinary surgeon. Alas, Ray’s plans didn’t come to fruition.
Eighteen year old Ray Price was drafted in 1944, and served in the United States Marine Corp in the Pacific Theatre. After the end of World War II, Ray returned to college to finish his studies. There was a problem though.
Ray was only of slight build, and people wondered if he was really suited to the life of a vet in the Lone Star State? Much of their time was spent dealing with horses and cattle. Given his slight build, could Ray Price cope with this? This resulted in Ray Price having to rethink his career options.
So Ray Price headed back to his father’s ranch in Wood County. That was where Ray was born on January 12th 1926. Sadly, his parents divorced when he was three, and for the rest of his childhood, Ray divided his time between his father’s ranch, and his mother and step-father’s home.
By the time Ray Price was a teenager, he had discovered the guitar, and had learnt to play it. This would serve him well when he left veterinarian college, and was considering his future. Ray began singing at various functions in Abilene, in west-central Texas. Eventually, this lead to Ray to singing on the Hillbilly Circus broadcast on Abilene’s KRBC radio station. Little did Ray Price realise, that this would lead to him becoming one of the biggest names in country music. His wide ranging baritone voice features 116 singles and fifty-one albums. This includes Another Bridge To Burn, Touch My Heart, Danny Boy and Take Me As I Am, which were released between July 1966 and March 1968. These four albums have been reissued and remastered as a two disc set by BGO Records. However, in 1946 Ray Price was just making his way in the world of country music.
Three years after making his debut on Abilene’s KRBC radio station, Ray Price joined the Big D Jamboree in 1949. It aired on the Dallas radio station KRLD-AM. Ray was going up in the world. Not long after joining the Big D Jamboree, CBS began to broadcast the show nationwide. For the first time, Ray Price was being heard by a national audience. It was also around this time that Ray met Lefty Frizzell.
The two singers first met at the Beck Recording Studio, in Dallas. Ray Price was at the Studio to record some demos. However, he also ended up penning Give Me More, More, More Of Your Kisses for Lefty Frizzell. While the song didn’t give Lefty Frizzell a hit single, Ray’s demos caught the attention of Bullet Records, in Nashville.
Soon, Ray Price was signed to Bullet Records, and sent into the studio to cut his debut single, Jealous Lies. When Jealous Lies was released in 1950, it wasn’t a commercial success. Despite this, Ray decided to move to the home of country music, Nashville.
Having made the decision to move to Nashville, Lady Luck was smiling on Ray Price. When he arrived in Nashville, he ended up sharing a room with country music legend, Hank Williams. He became Ray’s mentor.
This was despite Hank Williams being just three years Ray Price’s senior. By then, Hank Williams had over a dozen top ten country singles, including three number ones. Ray couldn’t have asked for a better teacher, and was a willing pupil. Although their time together was brief, Ray Price learnt a lot from Hank Williams, and was better prepared to make his way in the world of country music.
By 1952, Ray Price was signed to Columbia Records, and released Talk to Your Heart as a single. It reached number three in the US Country charts. The followup, Don’t Let the Stars Get In Your Eyes the reached number four later in 1952. This was the last hit single Ray enjoyed for two years.
1953 didn’t start well for Ray Price. On the 1st of January, Hank Williams was found dead. He was only twenty-nine. It was a huge blow for his friends, which included Ray Price. After Hank Williams’ death, Ray Price managed his old friend’s band, The Drifting Cowboys. During this period, the band enjoyed some success. However, this wasn’t the only band Ray Price worked with during 1953.
In 1953, Ray Price formed his own band The Cherokee Cowboys. Its lineup would change over the years, and during the late fifties and early sixties, included Willie Nelson, Roger Miller, Buddy Emmons, Johnny Bush, Van Howard, Darrell McCall and Johnny Paycheck. By then, Ray Price would be one of the biggest names in country music.
It wasn’t until 1954 that Ray Price returned to the US Country charts. I’ll Be There (If You Ever Want Me). It reached number two, and was the biggest single of Ray’s career. For the followup, I’m Much too Young to Die was released later in 1954, but stalled at number thirteen in the US Country charts. However, it was another two years before Ray enjoyed another hit single.
1956 was a big year for Ray Price. Run Boy reached number five in the US Country charts. Then Ray’s cover of Crazy Arms gave Ray his first number one in the US Country charts. The followup, I’ve Got A New Heartache stopped just short of the top spot, reaching number two in the US Country charts. By then, Ray Price was well on the way to becoming one of the biggest names in country music.
In 1957, the success kept on coming for Ray Price. I’ll Be There (When You Get Lonely) reached number twelve in the US Country charts. Then My Shoes Keep Walking Back To You gave Ray his second number one in the US Country charts. This was the perfect time for Ray to release his debut album.
This was Ray Price Sings Heart Songs. It featured a selection of cover versions, including two penned by his late friend Hank Williams. When the album was released in July 1957, it failed to chart. This was a huge blow for Ray. However, he wasn’t alone. Other country artists, including Johnny Cash and George Jones were experiencing the same problem. The country album era had yet to arrive.
After the disappointing performance of his debut album, Ray Price released his sophomore album, Talk to Your Heart in April 1964. It was a familiar story, when the album failed to trouble the charts. Two months later, Ray released City Lights as a single in June 1958. It gave Ray his third number one single in the US Country charts. Later in 1958, That’s What it’s Like To Be Lonesome reached number seven in the US Country charts. 1958 had been a year of mixed fortunes for Ray. His luck improved in 1959.
In the singles charts, it was business as usual for Ray Price during 1959. Heartaches By The Number reached number two in the US Country charts. Then the Fuzzy Owen penned The Same Old Me, gave Ray his fourth number one single in the US Country charts. 1959 had been one of the most successful years of Ray Price’s career. However, he must have wondered what the new decade had in store?
With a new decade dawning, Ray Price chose One More Time as his first single of the sixties. When it was released in 1960, it reached number five in the US Country charts. This was a good start to the year, as Ray began work on his first album in two years. Faith was released in September 1960, but despite the quality of music, failed to chart. However, when Ray released a cover of the Harlan Howard penned I Wish I Could Fall In Love Today, it reached number five in the US Country charts. Ray Price was enjoying more luck with singles, than albums.
This record continued in 1961, when Ray Price released Soft Rain as a single. It became Ray’s third consecutive single to reach number five in the US Country charts. Soft Rain had stopped just short of the US Billboard 100, when it reached 115. The followup, I’ve Just Destroyed the World (I’m Living in) reached just number twelve in the US Country charts. Despite this, Ray Price popularity continued to grow. He was one of the most popular country singers, and was a popular live draw when he played with his band The Cherokee Cowboys.
This continued to be the case as 1961 gave way to 1962. Pride was released as a single, and reached number five in the US Country charts. Then in May 1962, Ray released his fourth album, Ray Price Sings San Antonio Rose. Just like its predecessors, it failed to trouble the charts. However, at least Walk Me to the Door reached number seven in the US Country charts later in 1962. This was Ray Price’s twenty-first hit single. He had an enviable record, which he would add to during 1963.
The times they were a changing in 1963. While country music had its own singles charts for many years, 1963 saw the introduction of the US Country album charts. Despite the introduction of the new chart, it took Billboard until 1964 before they first published the charts. By then, a familiar face had topped the US Country charts.
This was none other than Ray Price. He had recorded his sixth album, Night Life, with usual backing band, The Cherokee Cowboys. This all-star band featured Willie Nelson, Johnny Paycheck, Buddy Emmons and Floyd Cramer. They recorded twelve songs, including the Ray Price composition The Twenty-Fourth Hour. Night Life was a stylistic departure for Ray.
With The Cherokee Cowboys, Ray Price took the old honky tonk sound, and incorporate it into what was a much more mainstream, Nashville Sound album. Night Life, which was released to critical acclaim in April 1963, was country music’s first concept album. It also gave Ray his first number one album on what was only the second week of the US Country Album charts. However, this wasn’t the end of the success Ray enjoyed during 1963.
Ray Price released a cover of Hank Cochran’s Make the World Go Away as a single later in 1963. Not only did it reach number two in the US Country charts, but 100 in the US Billboard 100. Ray Price’s music, it seemed, was reaching a much wider audience.
Buoyed by the success he had enjoyed during 1963, Ray Price was determined to hit the ground running in 1964. He released Burning Memories as a single, which reached number two in the US Country charts. The followup, Please Talk To My Heart, was released in July 1964, and reached number seven the US Country charts. It also gave Ray his first number one country single in Canada. A month later, Ray released his seventh album Love Life, which reached number three on the US Country Album charts. 1964 was proving to be another successful year for The Cherokee Cowboy. The only minor disappointment was that A Thing Called Sadness, stalled at number thirty-eight in the US Country charts. Apart from that, 1964 was another good year for Ray Price.
1965 was without doubt, the busiest year of Ray Price’s career. He released three albums, and enjoyed two hit singles.
The year started with The Other Woman (In My Life) reaching number two in the US Country charts. Ray then released his latest and seventh album, Burning Memories in March 1965. It reached number eight in the US Country Album charts. Don’t You Ever Get Tired (Of Hurting Me) was chosen as the single from Burning Memories, and reached number eleven on the US Country charts. Later in 1965, Ray returned with Western Strings his eighth album. However, it only reached eighteen in the US Country Album charts. Normal service was resumed when Ray released The Other Woman in September 1965. His third album of the year reached number three on the US Country Album charts. After the success Ray had enjoyed during 1965, surely things couldn’t get any better for him?
Another Bridge To Burn.
Given the success Ray Price had enjoyed during 1965, he was determined to build upon it. So he began work on his ninth studio album, Another Bridge To Burn.
For Another Bridge To Burn, again, Ray Price chose eleven songs by some of his favourite songwriters. This included a trio of Willie Nelson songs, Healing Hands Of Time, Go Away and It Should Be Easier Now. Hank Cochran was another of Ray’s favourite songwriters. He wrote Don’t Touch Me and cowrote I’d Fight The World with Joe Allison. Ray decided to record another Harlan Howard song, Another Bridge To Burn, which lent its name to the album. It was joined Fred Rose and Hy Heath’s Take These Chains From My Heart. Other songs included Nat Stuckey’s Don’t You Believe Her; Fred Carter, Jr’s I Want To Hear It From You; Don Gibson’s (I’d Be) A Legend In My Time and Jimmy Wakely’s Too Late. These songs were recorded in Nashville.
Producing Another Bridge To Burn, were Don Law and Frank Jones. They had decided to use strings on the album. The strings and The Cherokee Cowboys provided the accompaniment to Ray Price on the eleven songs.
With The Cherokee Cowboys providing a musical backdrop, Ray Price breathed meaning and emotion into songs. He was by then, a talented storyteller, and could bring heartache, hope or hurt to song. Other times, his voice was worldweary, and sometimes defiant and full of frustration. He sung of betrayal; the neighbours who gossiped behind his back and having to tell her to “Go Away.”
Always there was a tenderness in his delivery. The impressive baritone voice that captivated listeners across America for over a decade, was on form during the Another Bridge to Burn sessions. Once the album was complete, Columbia scheduled the release for the summer of 1966.
When Another Bridge to Burn was released in July 1966, it was to widespread approval and critical acclaim. The album featured Ray Price at his best, mixing country with a hint of pop stylings. It was no surprise that Another Bridge to Burn reached number one on the US Country Album charts. This was Ray’s second number one album. However, this wasn’t the end of the success Ray enjoyed during 1966.
Later in 1966, Ray Price released A Way To Survive as a single. It reached number seven on the US Country charts. The followup, Touch My Heart reached number three on the US Country charts. Both songs would feature on Ray’s next album, Touch My Heart.
Touch My Heart.
Having enjoyed a second number one album on the US Country Album charts, Columbia were keen that Ray Price released another album quickly. So he was sent back into the studio to record his twelfth album, Touch My Heart.
Just like previous albums, Ray Price dipped into the Willie Nelson and Hank Cochran songbooks. They had served Ray well in the past, and would do so again. Among the songs Ray chose songs about love, love lost, heartbreak and hurt. This included Touch My Heart, There Goes My Everything, It’s Only Love, I Lie A Lot and You Took My Happy Away. They took their place alongside A Way To Survive, Jeannie Seely’s Enough To Lie; Marty Robbins’ The Same Two Lips and Am I That Easy To Forget. Completing Touch My Heart were Swinging Doors and For The Record. These songs were recorded in the country music capital, Nashville.
As usual, The Cherokee Cowboys accompanied Ray Price, while Don Law and Frank Jones took care of production. This time round, the producers eschewed the swathes of strings that had featured on A Bridge To Burn. Instead, they favoured a much more organic sound on album which features country and pop . One thing didn’t change, Ray Price’s mastery of balladry. It was to the fore throughout Touch My Heart, where Ray laid bare his soul and hurt for all to hear. Little did anyone realise as the recording progressed, that they were witnessing history being made. Touch My Heart which was a country classic.
Critics agreed before the release of Touch My Heart, in January 1967. Touch My Heart was hailed a classic, and one of the highlights of Ray Price’s two decade recording career. It was no surprise when Touch My Heart topped the US Country Album charts, giving Ray Price the third number one album of his career. Touch My Heart became Ray’s first album to enter the US Billboard 200, when it reached 129. At last Ray Price’s music had crossed over and found a much wider audience.
This continued when Danny Boy was released as a single in early 1967. It reached number nine in the US Country charts, and gave Ray Price his first hit in the US Billboard 100, when it reached number sixty. The followup, a cover Willie Nelson’s Crazy, stalled at number seventy-three in the US Country charts. This was disappointing, as it would feature on Ray’s next album Danny Boy.
Given Ray Price had enjoyed two consecutive number one albums in the US Country Album charts, Columbia were keen he released another another quickly. So in April 1967, Danny Boy was released.
For Danny Boy, Ray Price decided to cover old favourites like Greensleeves, Danny Boy, Spanish Eyes and Willie Nelson’s Crazy. They were joined by Frankie Brown and Ted Daffan’s Born To Lose; Billy and Dottie West’s What’s Come Over My Baby and Ervin Drake and Jimmy Shirl’s Across The Wide Missouri. Ray also decided to cover Lew Douglas, Frank LaVere and Cliff Parman’s Pretend and Inez James, Buddy Pepper and Larry Russell’s Vaya Con Dios (May God Be with You). The other song on Danny Boy, was Soft Rain, a Ray Price composition. These songs had been recorded in Nashville, with The Cherokee Cowboys.
Just like previous albums, Don Law and Frank Jones produced Danny Boy. Grady Martin was drafted in to conduct the orchestra, as Ray Price headed in direction pop and easy listening. However, Ray hadn’t turned his back on country music. Instead, he was trying to broaden his appeal. If ray could again, crossover into the lucrative pop market, the rewards were potentially huge.
Danny Boy was released April 1967, and ‘only’ reached number three in the US Country Album charts. The album also reached 106 in the
US Billboard 200. Ray Price’s music was reaching a much wider audience. No longer was he only popular with country music circles. His music had a much broader appeal. For Ray this was had been what he had been working towards since he dropped out of veterinary college.
After the success of Danny Boy, Ray Price released I’m Still Not Over You as a single. It reached number six on the US Country charts, and number sixteen in the Canadian Country charts. The followup, Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go) reached number eight in the US Country charts, and number three in the Canadian Country charts. Both singles would feature on Ray’s next album Take Me As I Am.
Take Me As I Am.
Buoyed by the success of his crossover album Danny Boy, Ray Price’s thoughts turned to the followup, Take Me As I Am. It was another eclectic album, where Ray combined country with easy listening and pop. Sometimes, Ray dawned the role of a Las Vegas lounge singer, as he became a musical chameleon. By then, Ray was trying to appeal to as many people as possible. No longer did he regard himself as ‘just’ a country singer. However, Take Me As I Am featured songs penned by some of the biggest names in country music.
This included Ray Price’s old friend, Hank Williams. Ray delved deep into the Hank Williams songbook again, and covered I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You). Willie Nelson had long been a favourite songwriter of Ray, and he covered I’m Still Not I n Love With You; and Night Life which Willie Nelson wrote with Walt Breeland and Paul Buskirk. They were joined by Charlie Rich’s Sittin’ and Thinkin’; Nat Stuckey’s Don’t You Believe Her and Hazel Houser’s My Baby’s Gone. Other songs included V.F. Stewart’s Just Out Of Reach; Lan O’Kun’s In The Summer Of My Life; Boudleaux Bryant’s Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go); Kaye Savage and Sandra Seamons’ Talk Through This World With Me and Lennon and McCartney’s. Yesterday. These songs became Take Me As I Am.
When recording got underway in Nashville, there had a change in personnel. Don Law was producing the album on his own. Ray Ellis took charge of the arrangements, and conducted the orchestra. The one thing that didn’t change was Ray Price’s backing band, The Cherokee Cowboys. They provided the backdrop as Ray became a musical chameleon.
Ray Price combined country and pop with easy listening, and even, ventured into the territory of the Las Vegas lounge singers. However, Ray was at his best on the ballads and love songs. He comes into his own, with heartfelt and emotive vocals. On Sitting’ and Thinkin’ Ray’s in a reflective mood, while his hurt and heartbreak shines through on I’m Not Over You and My Baby’s Gone. Then on Just Out Of Reach, Ray’s vocal is rueful, while Yesterday is bittersweet and wistful. Always, though, there’s a soulful quality to Ray’s voice. Ray was putting his twenty years of experience to good use on Take Me As I Am. It was an album that was meant to appeal to a wide range of record buyers.
Before Take Me As I Am was released, critics had their say on the album. The reviews reviews praised Ray Price’s determination to reinvent himself, and take his music in new directions. Critics forecast another successful album from Ray.
When Take Me As I Am was released in March 1967, it reached number five in the US Country Album charts. This was another success for Ray Price. However, the album never troubled the US Billboard 200. Maybe, Take Me As I Am was the wrong album at the wrong time?
1967 was the Summer Of Love, and albums of country, pop and easy listening maybe weren’t going to attract the audiences they once had? Psychedelic music was growing in popularity. So was country rock. At least, there was no decline in country music’s music’s popularity.
In the country music community, Ray Price was one of the most successful artists of the sixties. By the time Take Me As I Am was released in March 1967, Ray had released thirteen albums. Eight of the albums Ray had released since the inception of the US Country Album charts, had reached the top ten. Three of these albums had reached number one. Ironically, Ray’s least successful album, Danny Boy, which only reached eighteen in the US Country Album charts, reached 106 in the US Billboard 200. This gave Ray his biggest crossover album of his career so far. Then there was the small matter of thirty-one hit singles, including twenty-three top ten hits and three number one singles. Ray Price had come a long way since he released his debut single Jealous Lies.
Ray Price was a giant of country music, and already, his career had spanned three decades. Eventually, Ray’s career lasted eight decades. During that period, Ray released fifty-one albums, and was even recording and performing into his eighties. Sadly, Ray Price, a true legend of country music died on December 16th 2013, aged eighty seven. During his long and illustrious career, Ray Price sung everything from country, easy listening pop and swing right through to gospel. His distinctive baritone brought life and meaning into literally hundreds of songs. This includes the four albums which were recently reissued and remastered as a two disc set by BGO Records.
Another Bridge To Burn, Touch My Heart, Danny Boy and Take Me As I Am feature on BGO Records’ two disc set. They were released between July 1966 and March 1968, which was one of the most successful periods of Ray Price’s career. It was also a period where Ray Price decided to reinvent himself, so that his music appealed to a much wider audience. This Ray Price succeeded in doing, and in doing so, showed different sides to much missed, country music legend The Cherokee Cowboy.
RAY PRICE-ANOTHER BRIDGE TO BURN, TOUCH MY HEART, DANNY BOY AND TAKE ME AS I AM.
BUSHMAN’S REVENGE-JAZZ, FRITT ETTER HUKOMMELSEN.
After spending twelve years touring and recording, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge decided to take a much needed break. The gruelling and relentless schedule of the last few years had taken its toll. All that was needed was some time off, and a newly refreshed and revitalised Bushman’s Revenge would be good to go again.
By then, Bushman’s Revenge had come a long way since the band was formed in Oslo 2003. Since then, Bushman’s Revenge’s star has been in the ascendancy. Their albums have been released to critical acclaim, while Bushman’s Revenge were described as “the missing link between Albert Ayler and Black Sabbath.” That was a fitting description of a trailblazing band.
During the rise and rise of Bushman’s Revenge, they’ve become one of the most inventive, innovative and influential Norwegian bands of their generation. Bushman’s Revenge have released seven albums between 2007 and 2015. These albums find Bushman’s Revenge fusing free jazz, power rock and progressive rock. It’s a potent, heady and irresistible brew, that’s devoured greedily by music fans. Despite this, after their well deserved rest, Bushman’s Revenge decided to change direction on their eighth album.
Having enjoyed some needed downtime, the three members of Bushmen’s Revenge were raring to go. By then, Bushman’s Revenge had made the decision to change direction musically. They felt that for the time being, they had taken their fusion of “jazz, progressive and rock as far as they can.” However, this change of direction offered all sorts of new and exciting possibilities to Bushmen’s Revenge. This included making what Bushman’s Revenge describe as their “first proper jazz album,” Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, which will be released by Rune Grammofon on the 16th of September 2016.
Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen which translates as “Jazz From Memory,” is a return to the music the members of Bushman’s Revenge played in their “music school days when jazz was on the agenda and Coltrane was God.” However, times have changed since them.
Nowadays, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge are talented, versatile and confident musicians who can played with speed, accuracy and power. The members of Bushman’s Revenge are also elder statesman of the Norwegian music scene. Each member of Bushman’s Revenge has a life away from the band. They’re members of other bands; collaborate with other artists and works as session musicians, arrangers, producers and songwriters. Always, though, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge, return to the mothership. That has been the case since the earliest days of Bushman’s Revenge.
It was back in 2003, that drummer Gard Nilssen, bassist Rune Nergaard and guitarist Even Helte Hermansen decided to form a new band. They shared a love for, and appreciation of, free jazz and progressive rock. The three musicians bonded while listening to un Ra, Cream, Alice Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Cream, Black Sabbath, The Pixies and Sonny Sharrock. This was the music that would go on to influence their new band when it made its live debut.
This came not long after the three friends returned from a holiday in South Africa. That was when they discovered that they had a concert booked. There was a problem though. The band had no name. So, remembering a brand of hot sauce they had encountered in South Africa, Bushman’s Revenge was born in 2003.
Having made their live debut in 2003, Bushman’s Revenge spent the next four years honing their sound. They become a familiar face on Norway’s vibrant live music scene. Night after night, week after week, month after month, Bushman’s Revenge played pubs and clubs. After four years, Bushman’s Revenge had served their musical apprenticeship, and in the process, established a loyal fan-base. This would serve them well, as Bushman’s Revenge were about to release their debut album.
Later in 2007, Bushman’s Revenge released their debut album Cowboy Music n the Jazzaway label. It received praise and plaudits from critics. Soon, Bushman’s Revenge were on the move.
Before long, Bushman’s Revenge had signed to Rune Grammofon, one of Norway’s most prestigious labels. By February 2009, Bushman’s Revenge were ready released their sophomore album. This was You Lost Me At Hello, which was released to widespread critical acclaim. Buoyed by the success of You Lost Me At Hello, Bushman’s Revenge released Jitterbug in April 2010. It further cemented Bushman’s Revenge’s reputation as one of the rising stars of Norwegian music.
Despite this, it was nearly two years before Bushman’s Revenge returned with a new album. However, Bushman’s Revenge had been busy, and planned to release two albums during 2012. This included the critically acclaimed Never Mind The Botox in January 2012. It got 2012 off to a good start for Bushman’s Revenge.
They returned later in 2012, with another innovative album of genre-melting music, A Little Bit Of A Big Bonanza. It was another album of ambitious and inventive music from the Oslo based trio. Bushman’s Revenge’s fusion of free jazz and progressive rock had caught the attention of critics and record buyers. Having released six studio albums in five years, Bushman’s Revenge noticed something was missing from their back-catalogue…a live album. So they set about rectifying this.
In April 2013, Electric Komle-Live was released. It showcased what Bushman’s Revenge live sounded like. It was an impressive sound, and one that won the approval of critics. So would Bushman’s Revenge’s seventh album.
This was Thou Shalt Boogie!, which was released in January 2014. It was another album where musical genres and influences melted into one, and became part of a heady and irresistible brew. Thou Shalt Boogie! was hailed as a career defining album. Bushman’s Revenge had reached new musical heights. There was only one problem, how would Bushman’s Revenge match Thou Shalt Boogie!?
Since the release of Thou Shalt Boogie!, the Bushman’s Revenge story took an unexpected twist. Having spent twelve years touring and recording, the three members of Bushman’s Revenge decided to take a much needed break. The gruelling and relentless schedule of the last few years had taken its toll.
The break allowed Bushman’s Revenge to consider the future direction of the group. This resulted in Bushman’s Revenge deciding to change direction. They felt that for the time being, they had taken their fusion of “jazz, progressive and rock as far as they can.” However, this allowed Bushmen’s Revenge to record their “first proper jazz album,” Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, which translates as “Jazz From Memory.” This is a fitting title.
It’s a long time since the members of Bushman’s Revenge have played what they describe as traditional jazz. That was back when they were music students. Since then, the members of Bushman’s Revenge are much more experienced, talented and versatile musicians. They’re also able to play with speed, accuracy and power, while seamlessly switching between, and combining disparate musical genres. However, for Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen Bushman’s Revenge have decided to take a different approach.
When it came to record Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, Bushman’s Revenge were aiming to capture a much more organic, natural and joyous sound. This wasn’t all. Guitarist Even Helte Hermansen describes how Bushman’s Revenge wanted “to explore the link between the Shorter-Coltrane world on one side and electric blues-Hendrix on the other, but without having to turn it all up to eleven.” To do this, Bushman’s Revenge went away and began work on what became Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen.
For Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, Bushman’s Revenge wrote four new compositions, 0500, Bo Marius, Gamle Plata Til Arne and Lola Mit Dem Gorgonzola. The other two tracks were cover versions – McCoy Tyner’s Contemplation and Albert Ayler’s Angels. This Bushman’s Revenge hoped would result in an album of the most heartfelt and spiritual music of their career. So the Bushman’s Revenge booked two days at Athletic Sound, in Halden.
At Athletic Sound, drummer Gard Nilssen, bassist Rune Nergaard and guitarist Even Helte Hermansen were joined by recordists Kai Andersen and Dag Erik Johansen. The sessions began on the 2nd of May, and by the 3rd of May 2016, the six songs had been recorded. It had taken just two days to record Bushman’s Revenge’s comeback album.
With Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen recorded, Johnny Skalleberg mixed the album at Amper Tone, in Oslo. All that was left was for Helge Sten to master the album at Audio Virus Lab. Once the mastering was complete, Bushman’s Revenge’s eighth album was ready for release.
Less than four months later, Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is about to be released. It’s a very different album from Bushman’s Revenge. Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is also an ambitious album, where Bushman’s Revenge come out of their comfort zone to record their “first proper jazz album.”
Opening Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is Bushman’s Revenge’s cover of McCoy Tyner’s Contemplation. It’s slow, spacious and meanders thoughtfully along. Space is left in the understated arrangement by the rhythm section. They eschew power for a much more restrained approach. Here, less is more, as the bass and drums provide the backdrop for the guitar. It takes centre-stage, as it bristles, shimmers and glistens. Reverb is used, but not over used. Again, less is more, as the crystalline, chiming arrangement cuts through the arrangement. Occasionally, Gard Nilssen adds some drum fills and rolls. Mostly, though, Gard and bassist Rune Nergaard anchor the arrangement. Meanwhile, guitarist Even Helte Hermansen is unleashing a virtuoso performance. He plays with speed and accuracy, his fingers flying up and down the fretboard, as he deploys a myriad of effects. Behind him, the rest of Bushman’s Revenge get in on the act, and step out of the shadows. Later, as the tempo drops, the arrangement meanders slowly and ruminatively along, inviting Contemplation on what’s a spiritual sounding track.
Just Rune Nergaard’s bass plays, as 0500 unfolds. Rune plucks and probes, continuing the ruminative sound of the previous track. By 1.54 the understated sound of a chiming guitar and pitter patter of drums enters. They play briskly, as Even Helte Hermansen guitar moves to the front of the mix. Behind him, the rhythm section play with urgency, as the searing. bristling guitar combines electric blues and rock. It’s played with urgency, speed and accuracy. Soon, though, Bushman’s Revenge lock into a groove, and are playing as one. Later, the tempo drops, and the arrangement becomes understated and thoughtful. However, everyone has played their part in this eight minute epic, where Bushman’s Revenge fused electric blues, jazz and rock with urgency, emotion, drama and power. It’s a potent and heady brew, and one top drink deep from.
Cinematic and mesmeric describes the introduction to Bo Marius. A wandering, prowling bass combines with the guitar. It’s played inventively, with Even Helte Hermansen’s fingers way down the fretboard, cajoling a series of chirping and bristling sound out of his trusty guitar. Soon, though, he’s producing chiming, crystalline and shimmering sounds. Meanwhile, the bass produces a hypnotic backdrop, while the drums play a supporting role. Sometimes, flamboyant. jazzy drums rolls are added. Still, the bass contributes the unwavering, mesmeric backdrop. It doesn’t miss a beat; while the guitar adds chiming, chirping and crystalline sounds. By then, the guitar is played with urgency, combining electric blues and rock. Reverb is added, as Even Helte Hermansen unleashes another virtuoso performance where he channels the spirit of Hendrix. Later, the time comes to slow things down, and the arrangement becomes understated as it gradually dissipates, leaving just the memory of seven mesmeric minutes.
Gamle Plata Til Arne isn’t a new track. Its roots are in the band’s first ever jam session. The title is a reference to Arne Nordheim’s old plate reverb, which nowadays, resides in the Amper Tone studio where the album was mixed. A drum fill gives way to a bluesy jam. The bass prowls, while a searing, blistering blues rock guitar solo is unleashed. It slices through the arrangement. Effects are used, but not overused. A couple of times, the guitar feeds back, howling and shrieking, but the tiger is tamed, and soon, Even Helte Hermansen is working his magic. Meanwhile, at 5.14 the rhythm section create a jazzy backdrop. By then, Even Helte Hermansen is creating an ecstatic blues-rock solo. It’s played with speed, accuracy and power, as effects transforming this majestic solo. Meanwhile, the rhythm section seamlessly switch between jazz and rock. Later, as the track reaches a crescendo, Even Helte Hermansen is the last man standing. This is fitting, as he’s stolen the show with one of his best performances, which can only be described as sonic sorcery.
Anyone familiar with Albert Ayler’s music will be familiar with Angels, a track from the 1965 Quintet album Spirits Rejoice. It’s reinterpreted by Bushman’s Revenge. After a brief burst of sonic trickery, the chiming, crystalline guitar almost dances across the arrangement. It’s matched every step of the way the bass, while cymbals shimmer. Soon, the guitar is being played at breakneck speed, but with accuracy, as it heads in the direction marked rock. Effects are used, as another guitar masterclass unfolds. Meanwhile, the rhythm section provide the heartbeat. They provide the backdrop for Even Helte Hermanse’s scorching and spellbinding solo. Buried deep in the solo, is what sounds like a brief nod to the guitar solo in Wings’ My Love. By then, Even Helte Hermanse has pulled out all the stops and has reached new heights. He combines speed, power and accuracy, and plays with a similar energy and enthusiasm as Albert Ayler, on what’s a beautiful track with a spiritual sound.
Lola which closes Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is very different to what’s gone before. It’s a track whose roots can be traced to the mid-sixties, and the music of Swedish jazz pianist Jan Johanson. Here, though, there’s a melancholy sound as the arrangement meanders along. The bass is played subtly, while the cymbals are caressed with brushes. Taking centre-stage is Even Helte Hermanse’s jazzy guitar. It’s chirping, chiming and crystalline sound is at the heart of the sound and success of this beautiful, wistful track. This ensures that this new chapter in Bushman’s Revenge’s career ends on a resounding high.
After two years away, where the three members of Bushman’s Revenge took a well deserved break, they’ve returned revitalised and rejuvenated, with an ambitious album, Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen. Bushman’s Revenge wanted: “to explore the link between the Shorter-Coltrane world on one side and electric blues-Hendrix on the other, but without having to turn it all up to eleven.” This project wasn’t going to be easy. However, the multitalented Bushman’s Revenge managed to do so.
The hardest part of the Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen project, was reworking McCoy Tyner’s Contemplation and Albert Ayler’s Angels. After all, look at the personnel that played on the original versions.
When McCoy Tyner recorded the original version on his 1967 haps bop classic The Real McCoy, the lineup featured four of the finest jazz musicians of their generation. Joining the rhythm section of drummer Elvin Jones and bassist Ron Carter, were pianist McCoy Tyner and tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson. With neither a piano nor tenor saxophone, Bushman’s Revenge had to reinvent the track. This they succeeded in doing, using just the bass, drums and guitar. Using a less is more approach, Contemplation became a became a beautiful, reflective and indeed, spiritual track. It was a familiar story Albert Ayler’s Angels.
Originally, Angels, featured on the 1965 album by the Albert Ayler Quintet album Spirits Rejoice. Again, the album features an all-star lineup, including alto saxophone, Albert Ayler’s tenor saxophone and trumpet. This placed Bushman’s Revenge at a disadvantage. However, what Bushman’s Revenge decided to to do, was use Even Helte Hermanse’s guitar to replicate the energy and enthusiasm of Albert Ayler’s tenor saxophone. Even Helte Harmonise rose to the challenge, as he loses himself in what becomes an epic track where beauty and a spiritual sound are omnipresent throughout. Just like Contemplation, Angels had been reinvented, and became something that Albert Ayler could never have expected, but he would most likely have enjoyed. That would’ve been the case throughout Jazz, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen.
Throughout Fritt Etter Hukommelsen., Bushman’s Revenge were at their most ambitious, inventive and innovative. They wrote Lola, a languid and wistful slice of late summer Scandinavian jazz. In an instant, Bushman’s Revenge are transported back in time to the sixties, where they become a jazz trio. Seamlessly, they adopt to the change of style. That’s the case as the album heads in the direction of electric blues.
There was a reason for this, Bushman’s Revenge wanted to explore the effect that electric blues had on Jimi Hendrix. The effect of the blues on Jimi Hendrix’s music can’t be underestimated. Jimi Hendrix incorporated blues into his music, and often, used the blues as a starting point for a song. He then took the song in new and unexpected directions. That’s similar to what Bushman’s Revenge do on 0500, Bo Marius and Gamle Plata Til Arne. They combine electric blues with rock, psychedelia and jazz. There’s even diversions into avant-garde, blues rock and free jazz. Just like on previous albums, Bushman’s Revenge fuse disparate musical genres, as they create music that’s ambitious, inventive and innovative.
That’s been the case throughout Bushman’s Revenge’s thirteen year, and eight album career. However, Fritt Etter Hukommelsen is a new start for Bushman’s Revenge. They showcase their versatility as they move away from their previous fusion of jazz and progressive rock.
In its place, is a sound where electric blues, jazz and rock are to the fore. That’s the case throughout Fritt Etter Hukommelsen where Bushman’s Revenge create ambitious and innovative music that veers between dramatic, mesmeric and wistful to emotive and ruminative. Other times, Bushman’s Revenge create music that’s beautiful, impassioned and has a spiritual quality. That’s what Bushman’s Revenge set out do on Fritt Etter Hukommelsen, which they describe as their “first proper jazz album.” Maybe this will be the start of a new chapter in the career of musical pioneers Bushman’s Revenge? Only time will tell.
BUSHMAN’S REVENGE-JAZZ, FRITT ETTER HUKOMMELSEN.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF KAREN DALTON.
Karen Dalton could’ve, and should’ve, been one of the most successful singers of her generation. She certainly had the talent. Her peers agreed. Bob Dylan described Karen Dalton as his favourite singer in his autobiography. He compared Karen’s voice to Billie Holliday, and her guitar playing to Jimmy Reed’s. Sadly, all this potential and talent never materialised into commercial success. Instead, the Karen Dalton story is a case of what might have been.
Karen Dalton was born Karen J. Cariker in July 1937, in Enid Oklahoma. Growing up, she learnt to play both the twelve string guitar and long neck banjo. She wasn’t just a talented musician, she was also blessed with a fantastic voice. By the early 1960s’ she had moved to New York.
Now living in New York, Karen Dalton was soon a mainstay of the Greenwich Village folk scene. Her friends included Fred Neil, whose songs she would later cover. Karen was also associated with various bands, including the Holy Modal Rounders. However, in 1961, Karen met one of the biggest names in folk music, Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan first encountered Karen Dalton in 1961. The pair would sing together a few time. Karen must have made a huge impression on Bob Dylan, considering his later compliments about her. However, it wasn’t just Bob Dylan Karen Dalton made a big impression on.
During the sixties, Robbie Robertson and Richard Manuel of The Band also met Karen Dalton. She must have made an impression on the two men. Karen is thought to the inspiration for Katie’s Been Gone, a track on The Basement Tapes by The Band and Bob Dylan. Karen it seemed, was making an impression on some of the biggest names in music. Surely, it wouldn’t be long before Karen Dalton was recording her debut album?
It took until 1969, before Karen Dalton before Karen signed to a record company. It was worth the wait. She signed to Capitol Records, who would release her debut album later that year. By then, Karen had been a stalwart of the New York folk scene for eight years. She was more than ready to release her debut album. Karen was an experienced and talented singer.
It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best.
Later in 1969, Karen Dalton released her debut album It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best on Capitol Records in 1969. Many within Capitol Records had high hopes for Karen Dalton. When work began on It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best Karen had chosen an eclectic selection of songs by a number of artists.
Two are written by Karen’s friend Fred Neil, Little Bit of Rain and Blues On the Ceiling. Another, How Did the Feeling Feel to You, is written by folk singer Tim Hardin. Two others, were blues songs. Sweet Substitute was written by Jelly Roll Morton and Down On the Street (Don’t You Follow Me Down) by Leadbelly. With such a diverse range of material, this allowed Karen to demonstrate how versatile her voice was.
Sadly, although It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You the Best was well received by critics, the album wasn’t commercially successful. For Karen Dalton this was a huge blow.
To make matters worse, Karen was dropped by Capitol Records. Without a label, the future wasn’t looking bright for Karen Dalton. Her recording career had stalled after just one album. However, as the sixties became the seventies, Karen Dalton’s luck changed.
Michael Lang, the promoter of Woodstock, was also the owner of a record label, Just Sunshine Records. He realised and recognised Karen’s talent, and signed her to Just Sunshine Records. Work began on Karen Dalton’s sophomore album later in 1970.
In My Own Time,
For the recording of what became In My Own Time, no expense was spared One of the top studios of the time was chosen. This was the famous Bearsville Studios, near Woodstock, in upstate New York. It had been used by some of the biggest names in music, including Tim Buckley, The Band, Van Morrison and The Rolling Stones. With her band in tow, Karen headed to Bearsville Studios, where they met producer Harvey Brooks. He had previously played bass on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, and Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited would produce In My Own Time.
At the famous studios, Karen cut ten tracks. This album of cover versions and traditional songs became In My Own Time. It included covers of When A Man Loves A Woman and How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). Among the highlights were covers of Karen’s arrangement of Katie Cruel, Dino Valenti’s Something On Your Mind and Are You Leaving For The Country, penned by Karen’s husband Richard Tucker. These songs became part of In My Own Time, which was released later in 1971.
Just like It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You the Best, In My Own Time was well received by critics, but failed commercially. Lightning had struck twice for Karen Dalton. However, most people thought she would return with another album. Sadly, it never worked out like that.
After releasing just two albums, Karen Dalton’s musical career was all but over. She never entered the recording studio agin. There would be no followup to In My Own Time. Karen was lost to music and became a troubled soul. She became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and bravely and valiantly, fought her addictions.
Her life spiralled out of control, with Karen becoming increasingly dependent on drink and drugs. It was Karen’s way of taking the pain away. On at least one occasion, Karen overdosed. There was an inevitability that the Karen Dalton story wasn’t going to end well.
By then, Karen was in self-destruct mode. She was taking heroin, and at one point, it has been alleged that Karen and her boyfriend resorted to dealing to feed her habit. Karen had fallen a long way. Old friends who met her, almost didn’t recognise her. She was a very different person. Her lifestyle was taking its toll. When it seemed things couldn’t get any worse, they did.
In 1985, Karen was diagnosed with AIDS. Still she continued on a path to self-destruction. That’s despite the best efforts of her remaining friends, including country singer Lacy J Dalton.
Lacy first met Karen when she and her boyfriend were looking for a room to rent in New York. They were lifelong friends, with Lacy standing by Karen when things got tough. In 1992, in attempt to help her old friend, Lacy arranged to get her into rehabilitation in Texas. Before that, Karen wanted her cat to be brought from Pennsylvania. Lacy saw to this, and as an incentive for Karen to get clean, setup a recording session at the end of the rehab. It was all for nothing. Just a day later, Karen wanted to return to New York, where she was addicted to Codeine, which was prescribed by a dentist. For Karen, this latest addiction proved too much for her system.
Less than a year later, on March 19th 1993, Karen Dalton died. She was just fifty-five. At the time, it was rumoured that Karen had died on the streets of New York. That wasn’t the case. Instead, Karen Dalton died in the care of her old friend Peter Walker. She was only fifty-five, and had the potential to become one of the most talented singers of her generation.
As music mourned the loss of Karen Dalton, the obituaries referred to Karen as a singer. They never referred to Karen as a songwriter. Both of her albums, It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You the Best, and In My Own Time featured a mixture of cover versions and traditional songs. Not once did Karen include one of her own songs. This lead people to believe that Karen Dalton wasn’t a songwriter.
After Karen Dalton’s death, two further albums were released. Cotton Eyed Joe was released by Delmore in 2007. It was a double album featuring live recordings from 1962. Then in 2008, Green Rocky Road, an album of songs Karen had recorded was released. Neither of these albums featured a song written by Karen Dalton. Critics concluded that Karen Dalton wasn’t a songwriter.
Four years after the release of Green Rocky Road, and Delmore discovered a collection of songs featuring Karen Dalton and her husband Richard Tucker. These songs were released by Delmore as 1966. Again, none of the songs on 1966 were penned by Karen Dalton. Critics felt this was irrefutable evidence that Karen Dalton wasn’t a songwriter.
That seemed a safe conclusion to draw. Twenty-nine years had passed since Karen’s death, and nobody was able to find evidence of a song she had written. This however, was all about to change.
Fellow musician, Peter Walker had been one of Karen’s best, and most loyal friends during her lifetime. He was there when she needed him most. After Karen’s death, Peter was given the job of administering her estate. It didn’t amount to much. Peter realised that, as he sorted through the various papers and files. This wasn’t, he thought, a lot to show for fifty-five years. Despite that, Peter was determined to do the best for his late friend.
Carefully and methodically, Peter Walker sorted through Karen Dalton’s estate. Much of his time was spent bringing order to the various papers and files. Within one of these files, were everything from appointments, right through to folk songs that Karen had previously transcribed. However, what caught Peter’s attention were poems and handwritten lyrics. It seemed that Karen Dalton was a songwriter after all. Everyone was wrong.
Secretly, Karen had been writing lyrics. She had even got as far as adding chords to the lyrics. Given that there had been an upsurge in interest in Karen Dalton’s music, this was a discovery that Peter and Karen’s estate wanted to share with the world.
In October 2012, Peter Walker published a book called Karen Dalton: Songs, Poems and Writings. It was published by Ark Press, and was irrefutable proof that Karen Dalton wasn’t just a singer, but a singer-songwriter. Sadly, Karen had never got round to recording these songs. A rueful Peter thought that these songs would just become part of the Karen Dalton archive. They deserved to be heard Peter thought. That wasn’t possible though. The thought that Karen’s songs might never be heard, saddened Peter Walker.
Then one day when Peter was talking to his friend Josh Rosenthal of Tompkins Square Records. The pair had been friends for some time. They had often spoke about Karen Dalton and her music. Josh was already interested in the enigmatic singer. His interest had grown when he read Peter Walker’s book. So one day, Peter showed Josh Karen’s handwritten lyrics.
This was the holy grail of Karen Dalton’s estate. Although people had read the lyrics in the book, very few had seen the original. Josh was one of the privileged few. After seeing the original lyrics, Josh realised that the songs had to be sung from a woman’s perspective. So he sent a file featuring copies of the original lyrics to some of his favourite female artists, including Sharon Van Ette, Patty Griffin, Lucinda Williams and Isobel Campbell. Josh and Peter knew this was a long shot. With the letters sent out, it was just a matter of waiting and hoping.
Eventually, Josh received replies from the artists. They had all been influenced by Karen Dalton’s music, and agreed to cover a song. So eleven artist entered the studio, and recorded the songs that became Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs By Karen Dalton. When the compilation was released, here was the proof that Karen Dalton wasn’t just a singer, but a songwriter too.
This was ironic, because from the release of her 1969 debut album It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best, critics and cultural commentators had always commented on how Karen Dalton wasn’t a songwriter. The same comments were made when Karen Dalton released her 1971 sophomore album In My Own Time. These comments were still being made even when there was a resurgence in interest in Karen Dalton’s music. It was as if that by not writing her own songs, this made her less of a singer. Little did the critics and cultural commentators realise, that Karen Dalton had been writing her own songs all along.
Sadly, Karen Dalton never got the opportunity to record them. Instead, circumstances intervened, and Karen Dalton’s life began to unravel. After the release of In My Own Time in 1971, turned her back on music. She never again entered a recording studio.
There was chance of that. Karen Dalton was in the vice-like grip of addiction. Drugs and alcohol were the only way that Karen Dalton could dull the pain, and keep her demons at bay. Surely, things couldn’t get worse for Karen Dalton? Sadly, they did.
In 1985, Karen Dalton contracted AIDS. She was just forty-eight. This was a huge blow for Karen Dalton. Still, though, she bravely battled on. By then, most of her friends had drifted away. A few loyal friends remained, and were they were determined to help her. This included country singer Lacy J Dalton. She arranged for Karen Dalton to enter rehab in 1992. Alas, that wasn’t to be, and at the last moment, Karen Dalton had a change of mind. She returned to New York, where she had an appointment with a dentist. This proved to be the last straw for Karen Dalton.
When Karen Dalton visited the dentist, she was prescribed codeine by. It’s a powerful, and can be a highly addictive drug. Sadly, Karen Dalton quickly became addicted to codeine. This was just the latest substance that Karen Dalton had become addicted to. This was one addiction too many.
Less than a year later, on March 19th 1993, Karen Dalton died in the care of her friend Peter. She was just fifty-five, and could’ve, and should’ve, been one of the most successful singers of her generation. She certainly had the talent.
Despite her undoubted talent, Karen Dalton neither enjoyed the commercial success nor critical acclaim her music deserved. Maybe if Karen Dalton had been signed to a different label things might have different? Elektra Records which for a while, seemed to specialise in singer-songwriters, would’ve been the perfect label for Karen Dalton. She would’ve thrived, fulfilled her potential and had her music heard by a much wider audience. Sadly, that didn’t happen until later.
The resurgence of interest began just before Karen Dalton’s death in 1993. Before that, just a discerning group of musicians and music lovers flew the flag for Karen Dalton’s music. However, since Karen Dalton’s death, there’s been a huge upsurge in interest in her music. Both of her albums, It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best and In My Own Time have been reissued. Somewhat belatedly, Karen Dalton’s music is receiving the recognition it so richly deserves,
That is no surprise. The music on Karen Dalton’s two albums, It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best and In My Own Time is breathtaking in its beauty and truly captivating. Both albums feature a singer who was blessed with the ability to breath life, meaning and emotion into songs. This Karen Dalton seemed to do effortlessly on It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best and In My Own Time. Sadly, these were the only albums Karen Dalton released during her all to brief recording career. This means It’s Hard To Tell Who’s Going To Love You The Best and In My Own Time are Karen Dalton’s musical legacy, and a remainder of an artist who could’ve, and should’ve, become one of the most successful singers of her generation.
THE LIFE AND TIMES OF KAREN DALTON.
MARY AFI USUA-AFRICAN WOMAN.
When Mary Afi Usuah released her sophomore album African Woman on Clover Music in 1978, very few people outside of Nigeria heard the album. That was despite Mary Afi Usuah having performed in front of hundreds of thousands of music fans.
Mary Afi Usuah had spent thirteen years touring Europe with some of the biggest names in music. Night after night, Mary Afi Usuah opened for musical luminaries like Deep Purple, Duke Ellington and Led Zeppelin. Sometimes, Mary Afi Usuah took to the stage with Led Zeppelin, and matched Robert Plant every step of the way. This allowed Mary Afi Usuah to showcase her considerable talents and versatility.
By then, Mary Afi Usuah was a truly versatile artist. Seamlessly, she could switch between disparate musical genres. Jazz gave way to rock, soul and even opera. That was no surprise.
Growing up in Nigeria, music had played an important part in Mary Afi Usuah’s life. She played guitar from an early age, and growing up, began to write her own songs. These songs Mary Afi Usuah would record. However, the life of a singer-songwriter wasn’t for Mary Afi Usuah.
Instead, Mary Afi Usuah harboured dreams of being an opera singer. So having left high school, Mary Afi Usuah dared to dream and left her her home in Nigeria to train as an a opera singer. Over the next few years, Mary Afi Usuah studied in London, Naples and at the prestigious St. Cecilia Academy in Rome. Despite her dedication, and the time she spent studying to become an opera singer, Mary Afi Usuah’s future lay elsewhere.
That was how Mary Afi Usuah came to spend thirteen years touring with the great and good of music. During that period, Mary Afi Usuah’s embarked upon a career as a recording artist.
Her recording career began in 1969, when Mary Afi Usuah released her debut single Molto Di Più on the Italian label, Cinemox. The single wasn’t a commercial success, so Mary Afi Usuah continued to concentrate on live work.
Two years later, in March 1971, Mary Afi Usuah released another single on Cinemox, Kiss Me. It was a familiar story, when the single failed commercially. By then, Mary Afi Usuah’s star was in the ascendancy, and she was touring with some of the biggest names in music.
For the next few years, Mary Afi Usuah spent much of her time on what was a never ending tour. It would eventually last thirteen years. Still, though, she would find time to return to her native Nigeria, where she played live and recorded her debut album Ekpenyong Abasi.
Accompanying Mary Afi Usuah on Ekpenyong Abasi, were The South Eastern State Cultural Band. They recorded what was an eclectic album, which features Afrobeat, jazz, folk, funk and rock. Ekpenyong Abasi was released on the SESCULT label in 1975, and was credited to Ekpenyong Abasi with The SES Cultural Band. Belatedly, one of Nigerian music’s most tainted vocalists, Mary Afi Usuah had released her debut album. Surely she would soon, return with the followup.
After a gap of three years, Mary Afi Usuah began work on a new album, African Woman. For her new album, Mary Afi Usua had written eight now songs, and would be accompanied by Akwassa, who were a talented and versatile band.
Akwassa were one of many Nigerian bands who were making a living in the country’s nightclubs. However, Akwassa, who sometimes performed as Heads Funk Band, were a cut above the competition. Their lineup featured Awassa Eddy Offeyi, Felix Odey, Joe Castro, Kevin “Coburn” Njoku and Ricky West. They were joined by a very special guest artist, lead guitarist Charles “Effiom” Duke. His addition was the finishing touch to a truly talented band. They joined Mary Afi Usuah in the studio.
Recording took place at Phonogram Studios, Ikeja, Lagos. When work began on African Woman, Felix Odey, Joe Castro and Sylvester Akaiso had arranged the eight songs. They were co-produced by Sylvester Akaiso. He watched as Mary Afi Usuah and her multitalented band recorded the eight tracks. Seamlessly they switched between and sometimes combined, disparate musical genres. This included Afrobeat, disco, folk, funk, jazz, rock and soul. African Woman was even more eclectic than Mary Afi Usuah’s debut album. When it was completed, it was released later in 1978.
African Woman, which was recently released by PMG, was released in 1978 on Clover Sound. Alas, African Woman failed to find an audience, and the album disappeared without trace. This was a huge blow to Mary Afi Usuah. Maybe then, she knew her dream was over? It shouldn’t have been, given the quality of music on African Woman.
The title-track opens African Woman. A chiming guitar dances across the arrangement, before a roll of drums signals the arrival of the rhythm section and Mary Afi Usuah’s powerhouse of a vocal. She’s accompanied by backing singers, who accompany Mary every step of the way. Behind her, Akwassa lay down a tight groove, fusing elements of funk and rock. Later, Mary’s vocal grows in power and becomes celebratory and full of pride. There’s even a nod to the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, as this proud African Woman, Mary Afi Usuah, sets the bar high for the rest of the album.
As Kam Fat Owo (Mbata) unfolds, drums crack and roll, while the bass and chiming guitar usher in Mary’s vocal. She has eschewed power, for a much more soulful vocal. Soon, washes of Hammond organ join percussion, the rhythm section and guitar. By then, Mary isn’t holding back, and is combining power with soulfulness. That’s until a rasping horns makes a brief and welcome appearance. It reappears, and is played subtly as it accompanies Mary as she combines soul and jazz, on a track where Afrobeat, funk and jazz are combined by Akwassa. They again, showcase their versatility and prove the perfect foil for Mary Afi Usuah.
Chirping, funky guitar licks open What’s A Woman To Do, before the rhythm section and Hammond organ create the backdrop for Mary’s vocal. It’s a mixture of power, frustration and anger, as she seems to draw inspiration from Tina Turner. There’s even a nod to James Brown as she briefly vamps, before her band up the funk factor. A funky bass plays a leading role in the sound and success of the arrangement. So do braying, blazing horns as Mary’s soul-baring vocal literally oozes emotion and frustration.
Crystalline guitars open Tell Me Now and are joined by a funky rhythm section and percussion. They combine with Mary’s sassy, joyous vocal on this celebratory sounding backdrop. By then, a whistle punctuates the arrangement, and keyboards have locked into a groove with the rhythm section and horns. Later, Mary’s vocal becomes a jazzy vamp, as she moves away from her soulful stylings. She ad-libs as her vocal becomes needy and hopeful as the arrangement meanders along towards a crescendo. That’s when Mary asks: “tell me now do you love me?,” on this joyous, funky, soulful and jazz-tinged song.
On Sweet Elijah, the tempo drops, and Mary is joined by cooing harmonies as she mixes soul and gospel. Meanwhile, the arrangement is understated, with the rhythm section, a chiming guitar and percussion combining. Mary’s vocal is a mixture of power and passion, as she testifies. Matching her every step of the way, are the backing vocalists. They add the finishing track to what’s a quite beautiful song.
The rhythm section are at the heart of the action on Spread More Love. Especially the bass. They’re joined by keyboards as Mary delivers a heartfelt vocal, on what’s a song with a message. A horn responds to her call, while the rhythm section and keyboards anchor the arrangement. Later, as Mary delivers her ‘message’ it’s Akwassa respond to her call. By then, her vocal has grown in power. Then when it drops out, a sultry saxophone proves the perfect replacement. Then the saxophone takes its leave, Mary scats, before unleashing another vocal powerhouse. She sing: “Spread More Love,” while Akwassa respond: “spread it now,” on what’s a soulful, jazz-tinged ballad.
.The rhythm section have joined with keyboards and percussion to provide the backdrop for Mary on Our Generation (Ode To Our Nation). Soon, she is combining power and passion, as backing vocalists respond to her call. Then when her vocal drops out, Akwassa get the opportunity to shine. They show that they’re a talented and versatile band, as they Afrobeat and funk. By the time, Mary returns, Akwassa have locked into the tightest of grooves. She delivers an impassioned vocal, as if desperate to get her message across.
Tenkim Kpoho closes African Woman, where the rhythm section, keyboards and guitar combine as Mary’s vocal is akin to a vamp. Soon, though her vocal veers between sassy and soulful, while backing vocalists accompany her. Behind her, Akwassa produce one of their best performances. They seem to have more chance to showcase their considerable talents. Washes of Hammond organ, keyboards and a chiming, searing guitar play leading roles as the rhythm section anchor the arrangement. By then, Mary is combining soul, sass and jazz as this African Woman takes her leave.
After eight tracks lasting thirty-seven minutes, African Woman is over. It features a truly underrated singer-songwriter Mary Afi Usuah. She was one of the most talented female singers in the history of Nigerian music. Some believe there was none better, and indeed, one of the finest singers the African continent ever produced. Despite Mary Afi Usuah’s undoubtable talent, her recording career was all too brief.
It amounted to just a couple of singles and two solo albums. This includes African Woman, which when it was released in 1978, passed record buyers by. It was no wonder that with just a few years, Mary Afi Usuah had turned her back on music, and decided to work for the Nigerian Ministry of Culture. Never again, did Mary Afi Usuah return to the recording studio.
Sadly, in 2013, Mary Afi Usuah passed away. By then, there had been a resurgence in interest in her music. The only problem was, original copies of the album are almost impossible to find. When a copy becomes available, the prices are usually beyond the pocket of most music fans. So it made sense to reissue African Woman.
For anyone who has even a passing interest in African music, then the reissue of Mary Afi Usuah’s African Woman should be a cause for celebration. The reissue of African Woman is an opportunity to discover one of the greatest female vocalists in the history of African music, Mary Afi Usuah. She is accompanied by Akwassa, who provide the backdrop for Mary Afi Usuah, as she showcases her talent and versatility on African Woman, a true hidden gem of Nigerian music.
MARY AFI USUA-AFRICAN WOMAN.