Thursday, 26 January 2012

Eighties I

This be what you seek, it's only sodding eighties week...

Megadeth with Mary Jane - also the basis of the show's cover this week. I do like a bit of Megadeth and *ahem* unfortunately at the age of twentyfour I still haven't found it in me to prefer Metallica. Or even think about Metallica. No offence to Metallica - not that I'm sure they mind. I love MegaDave and his crew - and their gonzo vaguely politicized early period is music to my ears. Crunchy music.
I've always maintained that Aerosmith, no matter what period they're in are at least forty percent better than you think they are. A fine boogie band if ever there was one - and here in 1989 they were still surfing on their resurgence in popularity - My Girl is a fine little song and simple as a ball.
Diamond Head are one of the most vibrant bands of the early eighties - and sod it but their story of self destruction is almost addictively horrible. Cork your head around Streets of Gold a B-side from a 1980 single - reissued on various copies of their debut album. Which itself is TIGHT. LIKE A PARTICULARLY TIGHT PAIR OF SHOES. If it enraptures you I recommend you listen further in.
Beyond the Doors of the Dark is a sonorous little ditty from Savatage's 1987 album "Hall of the Mountain King". A heavy metal record so gorgeously unaware that it's got THAT as an album cover. Good god they could play though - and the older they got the better it was. I love this record - I used to wear a backpatch of the album cover that always had the chavs at college talking. I'm sure it was all good. A vibrant  and extraordinary band.
The meatiest head in rock - seminal bar blues king George Thorogood and his Delaware Destroyers ruled the sweaty beer-soaked holes of the eighties with their irresistible Bo Diddley beat and sinisterly snake-skinned suits. This is from the mid-eighties and it's a trifle more witty than you'd think. That's right, a trifle is a unit of measurement now.
It gets no more metal than Judas Priest. It literally ACTUALLY can't get more metal. Top scientists the world over have been trying to make things MORE metal but it physically can't be done. With Rapid Fire off of 1980's "British Steel" the Priest were ... well, they were simply forging the furnace for the final grand slam weren't they? The voice at the beginning was, indeed, Arthur Dent from the Hitchhiker's Secondary Phase (also 1980). In many ways also metal.
Fight Sequence is, naturally, a Hawkwind song. From "Live Chronicles" a mid-eighties... well, Live Chronicle of their tour for "The Chronicle of the Black Sword", a particularly Moorcockian voyage through atmospherics and hysterics. Well worth hearing I do love Hawkwind - even out of the seventies it's all good. Also - that clip at beginning - is clearly from Monty Python's Meaning of Life. interesting record from the 72nd year of John Lee Hooker's considerably excellent existence. Rockin' Chair is from 1989's The Healer which featured such ... relevant artists as Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana and Los Lobos - also the aforementioned Thorogood. This one though, is all Hooker's own and it's extraordinarily atmospheric. Do loves me some Hooker. Shouldn't have said that.
Who's up for some eighties Black Sabbath?!

No one? Really?! It's actually not as terrible as you think. Tony Martin is on vocals and... well the eighties is certainly there. As well as riff titan Tony Iommi and some session players. It's Sabbathness is debatable but good lord it's got some good riffage buried in there. It's like wading through a confusing eighties sea (see extended metaphor on Mixcloud description).
Classic "athletic rock" trio Raven kick the living shit out of most sappy turgid bands from the early Nwobhm era simply by being louder, faster and overall more ridiculous. I challenge anyone to wail as convincingly as John Gallagher. Are they the best band from Newcastle? Probably.
I don't know what to say apart from that I FUCKING LOVE RUSH. Don't ask me why. ACTUALLY DO. Ask "Why do you like this pompous Canadian trio? Why do you enjoy their self-involved atmospheric instrumental rambles? Why do you adore the astronomically high-pitched-yet-eloquent vocals?" Why do you ask rhetorical questions? I wear this album cover as hoodie for the same reason crusaders wore a cross. I'M OUT TO CONVERT YOU.
Finally we're out with Albert Collins - an ICE-cold bluesman who was as sharp on the guitar as... well, ice is generally. Hence why he was known as "Iceman" hence why this album is called "Frozen Alive" hence why this song is called Cold Cuts. It's that simple.

See you in the nineties - !

O x

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Seventies I

Oh blimey - the seventies - ! Definetly wasn't present for that one... at least I don't think I was. I seem to own so much of it sonically. Perhaps even a solid decade of music, even - although most of that is probably just Yes.

This first song is clearly The Stealer by Free. This is taken from their 1970 Isle of Wight show - which has had many releases over the years - but the one I own was released in 2006. It's cover is also the basis for the show's one. Next week's is even weirder but you'll have to wait for that. Free were a very young band when they started (Andy Fraser on bass was sixteen) and quite quite basic really. I maintain that they are quite overlooked (with the exception of that one song) and their self-titled album "Free" is one the most beautiful blues rock records released in the sixties. I recommend you investigate further!

Followed by Cat Food by King Crimson. This is from 1970's "In the Wake of Poseidon" which a lot of people put down as a base copy of "In the Court of the Crimson King" but there's arguably a lot more depth here than in their not-inconsiderably-ridiculous debut. King Crimson are head-and-shoulders above a lot of their prog contemporaries for one very clear reason: They progressed. Every album of theirs tells a different story - and every year found them in a different mood. I wish they'd resurface. I fucking love the Fripp.
After a little John Cleese outrage from Monty Python Live at Drury Lane (1974) we've got CLASSIC psychedelic soul from The Tempations. Irritatingly as I'm a bit of an album monster the only version of Plastic Man I've got is on the 2003 compilation "Psychedelic Soul" - but it's originally from "Masterpiece" which is from 1973. A year of unparalleled recordings. I've always got time for soul and funk - and the Temptations of this period straddle it (LITERALLY LOOK AT THAT COVER) beautifully.

 This is Hand of Doom by Black Sabbath. I've always thought the drum track in this song was incredible, along with most of the stuff that he comes out with on the first few Sabbath albums (which are all equally breathtaking). It's all good basically, you literally can't take a step wrong in this era - also, the strange pink creature on the cover is supposed to be a War Pig. Go figure.
 Anyone's Daughter is from Deep Purple's 1971 album "Fireball" and is an interesting sonic departure from them - the album in question sits between two classics "In Rock" and "Machine Head". It gets cold there, in that valley between two enormous albums. People don't look down that valley often. There's The Mule there. I don't think this metaphor can go on long - save to say it wouldn't much of a seventies show without those hairy hard rock titans - !
Next up is Freddie King's Big Legged Woman a wonderfully lilting and classically mysognistic bit of bluesery that is fairly typical of Mr King's 70s output. It's fast, it's funky and it's bloody good. There are many Kings in the world of the blues, and Freddie certainly had the most funk. Also - apparently he had a bloody great gun in his dressing room that he would brandish menacingly at anyone entering.
The extraordinarily-named Prince Kajuku is from UFO's second album from '71. They didn't hit their stride until they found the slick fingers of Michael Schenker but here, quite hilariously, they were trying their hand at "space" rock. Hence the hilariously direct subtitle on the album here - which is actually entitled "Flying". Despite it's pretensions (there is a twenty-six minute song which culminates in a backwards-reading of Gunga Din) it's actually quite a good record. But me, I'm a sucker for ONE HOUR SPACE ROCK. Now I'm going for EIGHT MINUTE SANDWICH.

This goes quite suddenly into Sister Mary by the eternally underrated Stray. One of a few BILLION early seventies hard rock bands who never went anywhere but had some very good albums. Like Free, they were quite young on starting - this is their second from 1971 and is chock full of bloody good tracks. I think I found them via Iron Maiden who covered one of their songs on a B-side a long long time agoooo....
Then it came to pass that Robin Trower showed up. This particular rendition of the well-travelled blues standard Further on Up the Road was performed by the gurning Trowerman on the King Biscuit Flower Hour in 1977 - the chap is just... phenomenal. I love him entirely and saw him in Sheffield once in the past. The distant past.
A bit of non-standard Lynyrd Skynyrd balladry here from their 1973 debut album "Pronounced Leh-Nerd Skin-Nerd" - like Free it's good to investigate the bands behind the endless greatest hits albums and *spits* Kid Rock rip-offs. Despite this and free bird, Pronounced has some very kicking tunes on it. And blimey if it ain't as darn tootin' Southern as I am. But in the US. They don't like their cider as much as us Somersetians though, that's for gosh sure yar danketty
Bit of an odd transition - and it won't get less odd. Straight on to Joy Division's She's Lost Control from the second side of 1979's "Unknown Pleasures". It's dark and angular at the end of the seventies and Joy Division with their repetitive rhythms and tragic shadows summarize it wonderfully. A new addition to my ears this, and a little out-of-step with everything else but hopefully like Mingus last week it'll prick your mind up and displace you.
And without much warning there was suddenly Rush. This is from the last disc of 1997's "Different Stages" which comes from a Hammersmith Apollo show from '78 - the song is A Farewell to Kings from the album of the same name and it's a rollicking rendition. Like Deep Purple you can't have a seventies show without them, or an eighties show, a nineties show, a current show or a show about music or life or ANYTHING. I FUCKING LOVE RUSH SHUT UP.
There's something quite addictive about this song. The Pretty Things have some mighty catchy songs - here they are riding a bit of 1974 glam rock tidal wave (or torpedo) and sound closer to Mott the Hoople or one of those lads than in their majestic psychedelic 60s heyday (S.F. Sorrow is one of the greatest concept records of all time) - they handle the change (or torpedo) well though and it's a transition (or torpedo) that pays off (or .... torpedos off? Is torpedo a verb? IF IT ISN'T IT SHOULD BE)

See you in the eighties and thank you so much for listening :D

O x

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Sixties I


This is just a wee accompanying blog to the "radio show" of Owen in Rock which you can catch on Mixcloud generally -

It opens with The Beatles - Twist and Shout one of the tracks on the bloated "Live at the Hollywood Bowl" which is probably the worst live record of any major band. The reason is pretty clear - you can barely hear anything as they famously played stadiums with tiny amplifiers and girls... just wouldn't stop screaming. I bookend the show with a sort of phased effect on the screaming ladies. Because it's seriously weird. Just listen to how constant it is. It's an interesting document and was released in the late seventies - worth getting the copy with the press conferences on it as the band are hilariously sardonic throughout.

What follows is the Jimi Hendrix Experience - Hear My Train a Comin' which was recorded for... Top Gear or one of those BBC radio shows from the sixties. It's a session from the BBC Sessions album (2003) which is amazing, if only for randomly having Lulu talking to Jimi Hendrix pop up on shuffle and bewuddle you.

The Kinks - Young and Innocent Days is from Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) a 1969 concept record that was classically Kinkesque in the manner of it's twee concepts and the like. Above is a Pythonlike Victoria cutout that came in the album and sums it up for me. That and fear.

Steppenwolf - The Ostrich a typically 'wolf song about conformity and ignorance. It's hugely dated of course, but all kinds of endearing. From their debut in '68 - both this and Eric Burdon's Wind of Change are quintessential San Francisco psych records for me. A sixties show would be poorer without Steppenwolf, that's for sure.

The Yardbirds - Here 'Tis IS a live track but it's from a largely studio album called (beautifully) "Having a Rave Up With The Yardbirds" from 1965 - they had a wonderful one-foot-out-of-skiffle garage boogie thing going on here and I can't get enough of them. Interestingly enough side one of the album had Jeff Beck playing guitar whilst the second had Clapty-Wapty-Woo on it. Here 'Tis is written by the master of the boogie Mr Bo Diddley who we'll hear more from later...

Next, for something completely unfamiliar - the early Deep Purple's version of Hey Joe from their debut "Shades of Deep Purple" released in the year of our (Jon) Lord 1968. The cover has to be seen to be believed.
Be wary of the hairy. That's Ritchie Blackmore sporting the delightful pseudofro on the far right there and our (Jon) Lord in the centre. I fucking love that tasche. There's something ridiculously OTT about this version of Hey Joe that makes Jimi's sound thoroughly modern by comparison. Of course Deep Purple weren't to get truly righteous until Glover and Gillan got recruited. But it's interesting to see the start of it here - and worth hunting out is a video of a young Purple playing in the Playboy mansion...

Next is I Can't Reach You by The Who - again, you can't have a sixties show without the superlative Who - this is from the utterly unique "The Who Sell Out" record from 1967 which is littered with fake commercials by The Who for real things. Fairly subversive I suppose, given they were literally selling out and making a comment on it.

Following that there is a tiny instrumental work-out from Fat Mattress - intriguingly called Eric the Red. Fat Mattress are memorable for being started by Noel Redding (bassist with the Experience) their '69 debut is chock full of twee anthems to gnomes and the like as well as the (seminal) Petrol Pump Attendant. Ahah?

Then a bit of uncharacteristic doo-wop from our favourite Bo Diddley; Bo Diddley. Somewhere is from his  1960 album "Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger" and is a departure from his normal chugging square guitaritude.

Led Zeppelin - Black Mountain Side is from their first album - and is a bit of Page channelling (or copying) Bert Jansch's arrangement of a traditional Irish folk song. Page's version has some nice Eastern percussion on it though - makes for a good atmosphere.

TIME FOR AN UNSCHEDULED JAZZ FREAKOUT in the form of Solo Dancer (Stop! Look! and Listen, Sinner Jim Whitney!) by Charles Mingus. Lilting and not a little disturbing - from "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady" (1963). I can't find out who Jim Whitney was apart from a baseball player in the 19th century...

THEN BANG it's Janis with Big Brother and The Holding Company with Farewell Song from a performance at Winterland in '68 - I cut out a bit of her banter here but she begins talking about the next band on stage and describes them as being "out of sight" which is an expression I think should be used a lot more. You could write about Janis and her wonderful voice for ages but it's nowt next to listening. So do.

A bit more instrumental follows from the extraordinary Aynsley Dunbar Retaliation - it's called Mutiny and it's from their '69 self-titled album. Aynsley Dunbar is a drummer - and he seems to have drummed for absolutely everyone.

Finally it's Johnny Winter time - almost inevitably. Hustled Down in Texas is from "Second Winter" a 1969 record that Johnny recorded with his similiarly-albino (but significantly more insane) brother Edgar. It's also, bizarrely, a four-sided album with only three sides. The second vinyl had a blank side. I love his voice though, it sounds like a muppet.

That's that then. Seventies show'll appear next week at some point and it'll have SEVENTIES MUSIC ON IT. I'm warning ye now..