Monday, 31 October 2011

ALBUM REVIEW - The Louvin Brothers - Handpicked Songs

The Louvin Brothers
Handpicked Songs 1955-1962

The Louvin Brothers are a true mix of yin and yang; they manage to be one of the most un-hippest groups of all time, while at the same time influencing a whole roster of bands and artists across a wide spectrum of music with their gospel old timey close harmony country music. Their album covers regularly pop up in the ‘worst covers of all time’ lists with their literal takes on heaven and hell and God and Satan (Google ‘Satan Is Real’ for an example). On the flip side there is no cooler name to drop into the conversation in interviews for young country and Alt. country groups today when stating your influences in the country and bluegrass milieu.

Although The Lovins were primarily a gospel duo to simply dismiss them as a bunch of bible bashing hicks would obviously be a grave error as they have produced some of the strongest raw country music that the genre has to offer and brought the true power of music to both the shakiest of drunks and clean living housewife alike.

Country music is one of those genres that although is part and parcel of the inner fabric of rock and roll is still less appreciated than the cooler Blues and R&B side of the equation. Over the years the rock scene has dipped back into the country bag and with great results i.e. The Byrds ‘Sweetheart of the Rodeo’ an album which equals anything in their more psychedelic back catalogue in my opinion. In fact on this ‘Sweeheart’ album the later line up of the group include a version of The Louvin Brothers penned track ‘The Christian Life’ proving that Ira and Charlie were indeed still appreciated and respected by the rock fraternity within their own lifetime. The main instigator behind this inclusion may have been the newly appointed ‘Byrd’ Gram Parsons who along with Bob Dylan was ignoring the San Francisco summer of love scene and headed out to discover their own down- home roots approach. Dylan in fact had ignored the whole ‘love generation’ and Woodstock ideal and retreated back to his log cabin to record ‘Nashville Skyline’, a record that included guests such as Johnny Cash as opposed to his speed influenced ‘thin wild mercury sound’ that had come before.

Gram Parsons especially had been using his knowledge and love of The Louvin Brothers catalogue as well as his country heritage to influence by osmosis The Rolling Stones late 60’s and early 70’s great run of albums. His influence helped pull them in the direction of Bakersfield rather than urban Brooklyn and showed them the music and legacies of George Jones and Merle Haggard. This new shot in the arm was instantly absorbed by the Richards/Jagger song writing team and gave a welcome boost to there usual daily diet of Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters which in itself helped add hidden textures and a fresh canvas for the group previously bound by the 12 bar blues formula.

Like all music, the county and bluegrass genre evolved and became more commercial, whereas before it had been a skeletal group of musicians playing in theatres and small churches, it now turned into primetime entertainment. The small groups were now replaced by whole groups of musicians decorated in rhinestones trying to compete with the latest pop music of the day. But long before neon Las Vegas cowboys, and indeed the resurgence of true country music with the ‘Oh Brother Where art thou?’ resurrection in 2000, there was The Louvin Brothers.

The album here ‘Handpicked Songs’ is a compilation album who’s tracks have been individually chosen by other artists influenced by Ira and Charlie Louvin’s music including Beck, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams, Kris Kristofferson, Will Oldham and many more. You won’t find the loner lone wolf Man in Black style of Johnny Cash’s country or indeed the smiles and showbiz style of Dolly Parton version, but what you have instead is music from an almost other time altogether. When music was coming from the church was crossing and becoming something with an edge and rhythm to it. Tracks like ‘Cash on The Barrelhead’ musically sound like cousins of songs such as ‘Mystery Train’ or ‘That’s Alright Mama’ while keeping the halos firmly in place. While songs such as ‘The Great Atomic Power’ give an almost smirk to the future anti nuclear songs by turning the threat into a warning of the forthcoming Rapture while managing to keep the front row clapping and stomping along throughout. Some songs here are pure gospel and rival devotional offerings against any of the hand waving and fainting soul music you can mention. Songs like ‘I See A Bridge’ and ‘Almost Persuaded’ showing both sides of the coin from purest faith in God to the struggles of doubt that I’m sure everyone from Priest to Rabbi to Buddhist Monk, face throughout their lives every time they look into a mirror.

The story of The Louvin Brothers isn’t all smiles and sunshine and was filled with sadness throughout (Ira struggled with alcohol throughout his career and after the groups breakup was tragically killed in a car crash, a sad irony here was that it was the other drivers fault as opposed to the probable fault of the drunk Ira behind the wheel). With all the drama of a great gothic southern story this album is a perfect compendium of work left for posterity as a reminder of a time when white lightning was still was the biggest thrill of all.

Get it.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Miles Kane @ Electric Ballroom

Camden Electric Ballroom
Tuesday 25th October

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to go on tour, every night a different town, the hotels, the travelling, the after show parties, I’m sure it’s an amazing way to live. But with the inevitable highs I’m sure you would get the downside also and as soon as the novelty wears off the ‘5 minutes before show-time’ nerves disappear completely by the 5th or 6th shows and then the simple reality of routine slips in and it all becomes the daily grind and part of your ‘working week’.

This would have been my viewpoint until I saw Miles Kane at the Electric Ballroom. I’ve seen him and his band 5 or 6 times this year alone, from Camden Barfly to Reading Festival. Amazingly, I think he’s getting stronger in his performance, his enjoyment and the overall feel of each gig. If this is the kind of stride he’s hitting after a single debut album then by the time he releases a 3rd or 4th album I would think stadiums will be the only way you’re going to see him this side of a main stage festival performance.

I have been to many, many gigs and although most of them are enjoyable enough to watch and experience, generally with the best will in the world a few songs into the set you’ll start to see the blue glow of phones clicking on throughout the crowd and twitter and Facebook status’ being updated, missing the musical wood for the trees. Again, this wasn’t happening tonight! From the opening ‘Better Left Invisible’ to the encore ‘Inhaler’, Kane had the audience staring into his eyes and caught between his guitar strings throughout. Personal highlights tonight for me included the now classic ‘Come Closer’, ‘King Crawler’ and his excellent covers of The Beatles ‘Hey Bulldog’ and Jacques Dutronc’s ‘The Responsible’ which shows his musical depth and appreciation.

As a long time fan of Miles Kane and his work before his official solo outing I’ve always had the pining for more collaboration with Alex Turner and more Last Shadow Puppets material although with a wave of good will he’s currently on I think album number 2 is and should be the priority at this time as wasting this individual power surge of attitude and rock and roll would be a shame.

Kaka boom!

Set list

1. Better Left Invisible
2. Counting Down The Days
3. Rearrange
4. Before It’s Midnight
5. Kingcrawler
6. Happenstance
7. Take The Night From Me
8. Quicksand
9. The Responsible (Jacques Dutronc Cover)
10. My Fantasy
11. Colour Of The Trap
12. Telepathy
13. Woman’s Touch
14. Hey Bulldog (The Beatles Cover)
15. Come Closer

16. Inhaler

many thanks to Alex Fordham at Authority Communications
photo by Sarah Doone

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

iPOD roulette

Legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs once said that “you don’t choose your music, it chooses you”, basically you might go out and buy/download/steal (delete where applicable) a whole rack of bands and artists music but over a short space of time you will subconsciously whittle it down to a handful of favourites, ones that get chosen by you over the others even though when asked the standard boring ‘getting to know you’ loaded question's like “so, what kind of music do you like?” you will most probably answer like a hipster robot “oh, everything really” when in fact you are in fact full of it. Nobody likes EVERYTHING, you might try and impress everyone with your music knowledge and highly eclectic tastes and rattle off some obscure Japanese girl band from 68’ but when faced with a wall of CD’s around a friends house you’re more than likely going to reach for something familiar and pleasing rather than ‘challenging’ and ‘envelope pushing’.

In the world of playlists and iPods you can keep and carry part (if not all) of your whole record collection with you at all times and although you obviously like the music you have lovingly added to your treasure trove of sonic wonderment you’ll find that when on the random shuffle option you probably actually like 1 out of every 6 songs that pops up. I am currently re-evaluating my playlists and trying to spring clean the weak from the chaff. Playing the noble game of iPod roulette I will ‘shuffle’ then if I don’t immediately think ‘tune!’ it’s deleted (well un-ticked, I’m not Stalin!)

Ok, let the games begin. (YES are keepers - NO are heading to bin)

- Post Break Up SexThe Vaccines – YES!
- Gates of EdenBob Dylan – YES!
- Two of UsThe Beatles – YES!
- Cotton FieldsThe Beach Boys – NO!!…Al Jardin whining version of Leadbelly song, probably added as Brian Wilson produced

Right first hurdle, next…

- Tumbling DiceThe Rolling Stones - YES!
- Oh! You Pretty ThingsDavid Bowie – YES!
- Hope I’m AroundTodd Rundgren – YES! YES!
- Down the HighwayBob Dylan – NO! , it isn’t all gold in them hills, and this track from the 3 star at best Freewheelin’ album is one that I could live without.

Next bunch…

- Mr BrightsideThe Killers – NO! *Dropkicks into the pit of despair*
- Tough LoverEtta Jamse – YES!
- I Should Have Known BetterThe Beatles – YES!
- Monkey ManToots & The Maytals – YES BREDRIN!
- Sweet N SourThe Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – YES!
- Young Blood BluesHurray For The Riff Raff – NO! Breezy Does IT…
- At The Chime Of A City ClockNick Drake – YES!
- Faust ArpRadiohead – YES!
- Boom BoomJohn Lee Hooker – YES! Haw haw haw haw
- How Could I Be Such a Fool?Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention – YES!
- Dropping Bombs On The WhitehouseBrian Jonestown Massacre – YES! A bit of BJM to blow away the cobwebs....

Last lot (this could go on a while)

- ChillsPapercuts – NO! *delete*
- FinaleFuneral Party – NO!
- HotpantsThe Natives – YES! A welcome blast from the past
- DesireAnna Calvi – YES!, should have won Mercury Prize Award this year…bleedin’ robbed.
- Act NaturallyThe Beatles YES!-NO!-YES!-NO! just leave it and move on…
- KokomoThe Beach Boys – NO!! GONE FOREVER!
- Standing Next to YouThe Last Shadow Puppets – YES!
- Try MeJames Brown

And finally, cos this is getting worrying that I actually hate some of my own musical tastes...

Last song *deep breath*

- River Deep Mountain HighIke & Tina Turner – YES!... oh uncle Phil you’ve never turned on me…

In the immortal words of Art Attacks Neil Buchanan - "try it yourselves"

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

The Great Appreciator

The Great Appreciator

The Music Snob
A person who believes s/he has a more refined taste in music and has much more knowledge in the field of music in general. Every song and genre is unacceptable unless the snob happens to like it, then it is absolute perfection. Music snobs feel obligated to enlighten everyone with unwelcome critiques and irrelevant musical trivia.

The music snob, the person that prefers to talk about music rather than listen to it and definitely prefers to talk over the music to the ‘lucky’ individual sharing the room with them at the same time i.e. “I love those drums, did you know when this was recorded the microphone was hung over the banisters to capture that natural echo?...etc”* Yes we can be a little annoying and it seems silly that something which is based on listening gets talked about in such great depth and for so long (I’ve lost count the number of books I’ve bought that just discuss individual singles that last less than 3 minutes but that the author has managed to stretch over 300 pages!)

Music is for everyone and everyone is entitled to an opinion but for the great lost scholars of music there is another layer, a secret club that you aren’t all allowed in unless you have that ‘look’, the thousand yard star of someone that has sat through at least 2-3 free form jazz albums and has tried to convince themselves that they like it, before reeling off some vague connection to ‘Eight Miles High’ to convince others that no music has escaped your provincial sonic gaze.

This whole journey started when I read a comment by a high up editor from an un-named music publication (go on be a devil…ok it was NME) and this individual stated in no uncertain terms that they hadn’t ever heard either the recently anniversary edition ‘Nevermind’ by Nirvana (in it’s original or re-mastered format) or seminal British Indie album ‘The Stone Roses’ by the group of the same name (and one that had reformed the very same week after a breakup in the 90s no less.) Now if I may climb up on my soap box for a moment and tuck my t-shirt into my ‘Charlie Parker for President’ pants let me just say that I don’t expect everyone to have an encyclopedic knowledge of every Frank Zappa or Duke Ellington recording committed to memory for them to undertake a job as a music journalist but I would think at the very minimum you could run your eyes over pop culture for the last 20 years and pick out some of the most important bands and albums that were released before you start making a career in dissecting new and ‘original’ bands own material. How could you for example review the half arsed Editors album without hearing Joy Division’s ‘Closer’ you might make the grave error in thinking that it was original and give The Editors a 5/5 star rating and nobody wants that.

If you haven’t heard truly great music, then your boundaries are so skewed and limited. How do you truly know what a five star album sounds like if you haven’t heard a handful across eras, you might consider ‘Definitely Maybe’ a bona fide classic (as I do) but if you have heard ‘Sticky Fingers’ or ‘Blonde on Blonde’ maybe you would be more inclined to give it 4/5 before shouting from the rooftops that the boys from Burnage had made the greatest album of all times. This is why when week after week you get some flavour of the moment with an acoustic guitar strumming Dylan-esque wordy lyrics over softly finger picked accompaniment the reviewer is likely to mention Elliot Smith rather than Nick Drake and the pop-tastic new R&B single will draw Outkast comparisons rather than say Sly Stone or George Clinton.

Can you imagine having the nerve to walk into the offices at a movie magazine requesting a reviewers position there and casually dropping into the conversation that you’ve never seen ‘Star Wars', ‘The Shining’, ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ or ‘Jaws’ and that you prefer new films that your friends make on YouTube instead to going to the cinema? The punk ethos ‘year zero’ mentality is one thing but drowning in a self filled bath of your own ignorance is another altogether.

There is a light at the end of the darkness though young friends. Music magazines tend to get a little short of ‘copy’ come the start of the year so when the ‘best albums of 2011’ edition has been released then you can prepare yourself for the new years ‘BEST ALBUMS OF ALL TIME/60s/70s/80s*delete wear applicable*)’ specials that will come thick and fast to fill the gap until the high flyer's in the industry come back from their Xmas breaks some time around early February. Flick through this lists, get on Spotify or hit the New Year’s sales and fill your collections up with music from the musical renaissance that was the 20Th Century before embarking on the new.

Barry: "You don't have it? That is perverse. Don't tell anybody you don't own f%*king Blonde on Blonde. It's gonna be okay." [sighs deeply and hugs customer]”(from High Fidelity)

*= if you know what song i'm talking about...welcome to the club

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

'The Third Coming?'

‘The Third Coming ?’

So it would seem that out of the ashes of a few solo careers, a band transfer to Primal Scream and the ‘not as bad as they were made out’ Seahorses, the news has come through that seminal band The Stone Roses will be raising from the indie flames once again.

The group will reunite for 2 shows at Manchester's Heaton Park on June 29th and the 30th 2012 and this will then be followed by a World Tour! I'm sure simply the support acts (probably fighting over the spot as we speak) will be worth the price of admission alone. But is this really great news? I'm in two minds.

The legend of the band rests on 2 albums, although when the smoke clears it’s the 1989 self titled debut that will be the one that is remembered as it brought something new to the table and charts and carved a baggy niche in the market that was completely their own. By the time of the follow up (5 years later no less) 1994’s ‘Second Coming’ seemed to be the sound of a band that had watched ‘The Song Remains The Same’ a few too many times and had decided that ‘more is more’ with added guitar solo’s and more Jimmy Page style riffing throughout, turning the group into everything the group wasn’t, a regular ‘rock’ band. It didn’t help that during the ascent of the band up the charts for the 2nd album the whole era and generation had changed, and any good will and expectations the band had, from the press and fans loyally awaiting the follow up, was swiftly kicked down a peg or two by the brand new Manchester export OASIS and their own debut album ‘Definitely Maybe’. The group bowed out and were left in the memories of the fans that loved them and on the ‘Best U.K Albums’ list for posterity.

Now after many, many false rumours, sightings and bitching in the press it seems that the group will once again be taking to the road to play their best material and although I’ll be fighting for my ticket there is still a slight weird feeling about the whole thing. The problem with bands reforming many years after their initial dissolution is that it’s impossible to recapture the times and feelings that you once had. From the fans points of view, the baggy Jackson Pollock splattered teens that crammed into cars to the 1990 Spike Island gig to watch the band at the peak of their powers are now pushing 40 years old! The thought of them trying to pull on their baggy jeans and scoring some low rent E’s while their own teenage children mock them from the side-lines shows that the times have already a’ changed a few times since and instead of revival it would instead creep over to the side of pastiche.

This may seem very venomous in my appraisal of the possibility of a reunion while at the same time praising acts such as Dylan and Neil Young for their constant output well into their 60th years but I only dismiss the idea of the generation re-hash. The Stone Roses album and songs will always sell, never in amazing quantities but like The Velvet Underground each generation will pick up on it and love it because it’s a great, great album and with songs like ‘Made of Stone’, ‘She Bangs the Drum’, ‘Waterfall’ and the indie night classic ‘Fools Gold’ what’s not to like?

Do some shows, big ones, give everyone a proper send off (as well as giving the band members a nice pay off) and end the story of The Stone Roses with a bang rather than a whimper, once and for all exorcising the 1996 Reading Festival disaster set before stepping back to watch the bands you influenced come through and take the music onwards.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Album Review - Forest Fire

‘Staring At The X' is the second album from Forest Fire and the follow up to the excellent ‘Survival’. The initial set up and feel of this album is similar to the debut although I would assume by osmosis that various influences have crept into the mix before this was completed as the jagged fuzzed guitar lines and drones are more prominent here than on the first outing (and just as left field with their placement) as well as the introduction of more synth based keyboard lines.

The band has always been a sonic jousting battle between the more Lennon style melodic songs and the audio feedback tidal wave from Nathan Delffs (guitar multi-instrumentalist) and when the balance is on horizon it works perfectly although in some of the songs here it can get overbearing and drown out the prettiness of the acoustic guitar and vocal parts.

Like a lot of New York bands, somewhere in their creative makeup you will find the DNA of The Velvet Underground and in my opinion Forest Fire are no exception although where someone like Adam Green would follow Lou Reed's journey Forest Fire seem to be the son’s of John Cale with drone notes and long amp torture mixed with dark and Gothic nursery rhyme like melodies.

Tracks such as the opener ‘Born Into’ show all the various aspects of the group and their own idiosyncrasies with it’s building opening verse leading on to the chorus, louder and louder like a mini expanding pocket symphony. Later on the track ‘The News’ shows the bands more commercial side to their song writing while at the same time introducing the more unrestrained ‘I Heard Her Call My Name’ type guitar breaks washed in reverb and feedback, although here each phrase is kept controlled so it doesn’t take anything away from the overall piece.

On certain songs the lyrics and music (although complement each other well) sometimes can be confusing as they don’t make any sense and would leave even Bob Dylan and Van Dyke Parks scratching their heads. It’s reminiscent of a technique that David Bowie used by writing a bunch of lines on individual cards then mixing them up in a random order before piecing the verse together from this creative jumble. Of course I’m not saying this is the way it’s been done but any other way would suggest that simply making the words rhyme has been put higher in priority than giving the song any real meaning or depth, and that’s a shame.


Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Trout Mask Replica

Trout Mask Replica
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

Ok so I’ve read all about it, listened to other people’s descriptions of the recording sessions as well as the ideas and concepts behind the compositions themselves. Frank Zappa produced it; these are all little hooks drawing me in. I’ve now giving it a full listen while on the way to work, a time when I can lock myself away into my little iPod world completely isolated from the outside noise of tinny phone hip hop tracks, moaning old people deciding to go shopping at 8.15am then mumbling that the buses are too busy and general train weirdo’s watching Saw 2 on their laptops while wiping their chang abused noses with their ‘comedy’ ties.

I honestly don’t know what to tell you. Not in 'The Matrix', “nobody can be told what it is, you have to experience it” type of shtick but because it’d be like describing and reviewing the consistency of water, it’s all open to debate and to be fair it’s probably completely pointless anyway. The only way I can talk about this album is to either try and be un-pretentious or simply dive full in and go off the deep end of self congratulation and poetic description.

It doesn’t sound like anything else I’ve ever heard. It is probably one of the only things that I can hear that stops me thinking. There is no visual image of anything that is being played that I could visualise seeing live. I couldn’t imagine any of the music being used in a film for example, it’s too random but strangely intense at the same time. When I was at the height of my own guitar practice obsession I would listen to Jazz music to almost ‘log off’ from playing or thinking about playing as I wasn’t at the level to perform the pieces I was listening to and as they were being performed on instruments such as Horns and Pianos so there was no thread or link to my own guitar playing which would allow me to simply enjoy the music from a normal punters point of view and listen to it as it was intended. I feel the same affinity listening to ‘Trout Mask Replica’, when it starts you start thinking “this can’t be real, they are playing 4 different songs at the same time, it’s pathetic acid fried rubbish”, but at the same time you don’t turn it off, you keep listening and by track 4 you start to have a feeling that if you turn it off or flick to the next track the sonic lights will go off…you need to ride it out and see where this is going (probably nowhere but you need to be sure.)

Out of Captain Beefheart’s back catalogue the album that will always be my favourite would be ‘Safe as Milk’, it has Ry Cooder on slide guitar and it’s generally more song orientated and classic. Even writing this makes me feel like the biggest square and conservative killjoy in the world but I have to be honest, it’s better. Putting this to one side though and returning to the matter at hand I would say that listening to ‘Safe as Milk’ now after experiencing the onslaught of ‘T.M.R’ would be going back to black and white TV after you’ve watched ‘Avatar’ in 3D, it might in fact be your personal preference and sit better with you, but it’s very hard to ignore the fact that you know how deep the rabbit hole goes and then convince yourself you don’t and can’t consider the concept of the alternative once you’ve seen the other.

Once you’ve noticed the strings on the puppets you can’t keep your eyes on anything else.

It’s a phase that needs to be explored and then put away to one side like a little box of madness but I would recommend those who like their rock music freaky to give it a fair shake of the voodoo stick and see what they think.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Todd Rundgren - LIVE @ JAZZ CAFE

Live @ Jazz Café
Camden Town

Todd Rundgren is one of the last men standing out there that won’t be classified or boxed in. I can imagine record companies pulling out what little hair they have left after every meeting with him. Over the years whenever he has been on the brim of breaking through the ‘cult’ artist barrier into the mainstream he takes a swift left turn and creates either a new style of his own or becomes encompassed in underground music that even his most die-hard fans wouldn’t be comfortable with on first listen. In the 70’s when he’d released the power pop genius of ‘Hello Its Me’ and ‘I Saw the Light’ it seemed a dead cert that he could be one of the biggest selling stars of the decade but instead he went psychedelic, something most other artists had done 4-5 years previous, but by following his own path he went on to create the masterwork of ‘A Wizard A True Star’, an album that contains no obvious singles, no romantic piano ballads, in fact it’s a total 180 turn into a Dali world of imagination, soul music and space rock. He may have lost a few of his original fans but gathered up a lot more on the way and this is the reason he is the working and inspired artist he is today, unlike a lot of his auto piloted contemporaries.

‘An Audience with Todd Rundgren’ tonight at Camden’s Jazz Café is filled with fans of all ages, the young (yes I’m including myself here) the 80/90s fans and the 1970’s originals (easy to spot as they look like the cast of ‘That 70’s show’ at their 30 year reunion party).

The set is a mixed selection of new, old and personal favourites. Rundgren himself started proceedings and took a moment to explain his choices and selections by suggesting to the crowd that he was choosing the songs “that I feel you would have requested…if we took requests…which we DON’T” this subtle request to cease the shouting out for Utopia (T.R’s 70s prog outfit) B-sides fell on deaf ears as the more obscure and long forgotten tracks were called for between songs.

This is what happens when you’re a ‘cult artist’; your fans are geeks and can be very protective and annoying over the set list and omissions.

Throughout the evening one of the many highlights for me was the Soul Medley from ‘A Wizard, A True Star’ with songs from The Impressions, The Miracles and The Delfonics blended perfectly together to show an artist with a deep love and understanding of the music at hand and executing it to perfection. This soul song cycle (say that three times fast!) was then rounded off and completed with a lovely cover of Marvin Gayes ‘I Want You’ which fitted perfectly and took the set up a notch in my opinion.

Standards from his own canon including ‘Can We Still Be Friends’, ‘I Saw The Light’ and ‘Hello Its Me’ were all played to perfection almost note for note like the original recordings with only ‘It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference’ getting a Bossa Nova overhaul from his 90s ‘With A Twist’ album. Later tracks such as ‘Buffalo Grass’ showed his electric guitar chops match an artist such as Prince (himself another multi-instrumentalist and genre hopping artist and also a massive Rundgren fan.)

Later songs such as ‘Soul Brother’ and ‘Flaw’ from 2004’s ‘Liars’ show that he is still very much a contemporary in every respect and from the overall view of tonight’s show he is one that will continue to follow his own personal muse rather than the ‘career chart’ for many years to come… In Todd we trust.

special thanks to Jodie Meggs for pictures

Lucky 13

What’s wrong with playing ‘Louie Louie’? Nothing, what a stupid question, why even mention it? Good point. Well… sit upon my knee my son and I will begin. I’m currently demolishing in quick fire style Mike Barnes’ lovely page turning Bio of Captain Beefheart; and even though I truly love some of the Captains music (especially ‘Safe as Milk’) some of it just seems too much damn work to actually sit down and listen to. I ‘appreciate’ as much as the next Red Bull fuelled music fan but sometimes I just think music should soothe, excite, pep up and put a spring in your step rather than beat you into a confused pulp and ‘educate’ to a point where you don’t even know whether you like it or not. You think you should like it, all the magazines say you should, and it seems to be the commonly accepted position after all they’ve been correct and on the money about the other 9 best albums so why is it that this one isn’t doing it for you, your heart is staying un-fluttered and un-impressed by the ‘angular guitar’. The same can be said for Frank Zappa, for every truly great piece of work that he created there are 5 that cause a head scratching and a eyebrow raising "well that was 5 minutes of my life I’m never gonna get back" attitude to. Should music be that hard to listen to? Yoko Ono…oh NO...OH NO! Indeed. It’s ‘challenging’ and ‘outside the box’ and all the other buzz expressions to politely say annoying. Scott Walker went that way as well, from the beautiful Burt Bacharach and Jacques Brel arrangements of his earlier work he now routinely punches slabs of meat and bangs bricks together to ‘push the envelope’… spare us.

Here are a bunch of songs that will always work for me, always cheer me up and always recharge my battered psyche. Lucky 13

‘Let it Rock’Chuck Berry
‘Then He Kissed Me’The Crystals
‘Saved’Lavern Baker
‘I Saw the Light’Todd Rundgren
‘Wrap it Up’Sam & Dave
‘I Want You’Bob Dylan
‘The Rat’The Walkmen
‘Foxy Lady’The Jimi Hendrix Experience
‘Louie, Louie’The Kingsmen
‘Saturday Sun’Nick Drake
‘Tainted Love’Gloria Jones
‘Beast of Burden’The Rolling Stones
‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’The Smiths