Alternative music reviews

May 8, 2006

Grant Mclennan Singing Right Here

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 12:36 am Comments (1)

May 7, 2006

Grant McLennan

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 10:47 pm Comments (0)

1978. One night, in a bedsit in Coventry a 19 year old boy was listening to the John Peel show. A song by some unknown band was playing. After the first two lines of the song, the boy spins around in his chair and reaches for the tape recorder, causing the chair to fall over but in an unparallelled act of athleticism he manages from a supine position to hit the Play and Record buttons simultaneously. The song was Karen, the b-side of the first single by an Australian band: The Go-Betweens

So began a love affair that has never quite ended. More reliable and constant and long-lasting than any other love affair I’ve known. The Go-Betweens were a combination of two of the finest songwriters of my generation. In my pantheon of taste, there is noise, aural assault, depressive epics but only One Great Pop Group. One band who wrote the best melodic songs of hopeless or inspiring love. One band that with a couple of guitars and occasionally with a violin, could create atmospheres of spring rain, hot dark nights, stillness, and how a broken heart can heal.

Strangely enough, when the go-Betweens split the solo albums of Robert Forster and Grant McLennan were never as satisfying as them together. Even so, I always saw them when either one played Manchester. Then in 2000 they got back together and have just continued producing great records. Simply put, you can play James Blunt, Coldplay or whatever pop music to me – but how could love it? I have lived my life listening to better pop music than they could ever hope to reproduce.

Of the two songwriters, Grant McLennan was the one that wrote the pure romantic epics while Robert Forster was on the more quirky side. I love them both – they have provided a song for just about every heartache, jealousy, empathy I have felt.

Yesterday, Grant McLennan died unexpectedly in his sleep aged just 48.

I’ll borrow someone else’s words here. They did an acoustic perfomance on a Santa Monica radio show and this is the reaction of the Host, Deirdre O’Donaghue to Grant singing Quiet Heart:

“Everytime I think that it’s been completely done and I feel as though I’m absolutely, totally, permanently jaded, The Go-Betweens come along with a new record and take me apart cell by cell.”

May 2, 2006

Patti Smith

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 9:53 pm Comments (1)

I found a Patti Smith video of Gloria mentioned in the very wonderful Advanced Theory Blog and I thought it worthy of a post here. But then I found a video of Patti singing Horses on The Old Grey Whistle Test – a performance I remember very well. There had never, as far as I could remember, been a woman who had grabbed rock by the balls and squeezed so hard. Come to think of it, I don’t think any woman has done since – not even PJ Harvey came close to the sheer affrontery and intelligence that Ms Smith displayed.

There’s a version of Gloria here – I love the sincere intro from the Straight Guy with a pole up his arse.

April 5, 2006

1973 and all that

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 11:58 pm Comments (1)

This week on BBC4 it is 1973 week. 1973 was a defining year for me – I introduced myself to David Bowie, The Velvet Underground, Iggy and The Stooges, and the MC5. The main feature of 1973 week is a repeat of Life On Mars set in 73 Manchester – so I can watch it and laugh at the clothes and shout “I know that place” or even “I lived on that street!”. It makes my heart ache to see Manchester again – I miss it so much.

Even with this TV watching, I have finally managed to review Western Civ. I’ve also been listening to The Lodger, History of Guns, Mars Bonfire (recent submissions). I’m currently listening to The Friday Session so that I can hear Nomad67 at the BBC Hereford and Worcestershire open day. To quote from an email I got from Nomad67 relating a fan’s comment:

“you should be proud! that was true rock n’ roll man! you set a car alarm off with your sound and there were loads of little old ladies with their fingers in their ears!! ”

That’s what it’s all about.

February 25, 2006

Wayne County

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 6:13 pm Comments (1)

Been a good day listening to music. I gave The History of Guns album Apophenia a good listening to and really got into it this time.

I bought a pair of speakers for my desktop computer and it gave me a chance to play a load of mp3s I have had for years but rarely listened to. I happened upon two albums by Wayne County and The Electric Chairs. I remember going to the Reading festival in 1977 wanting just to see two bands: Wayne County and The Cure. Wayne and the Electric Chairs were subjected to a hail of cans and plastic bottles from the second song onwards and had to abandon the stage in the third song. Amazingly I saw a Watneys 7 party pack of beer thrown at them – with the beer still in! All those long hairs could only react this way when faced with the beauty and grace of punk. Maybe I should copy that form of musical criticism and if I get a CD I don’t like I can go round and break a few windows and create some bruises on the band members.

Wayne County’s music wasn’t all that special, a basic rock and roll mostly, but there were some good tracks like “Man enough to be a woman” (Wayne is now Jayne). The immortal song “Fuck off” is just ok. I do have a copy of the first single hanging around somewhere and that was quality with “Parania Paradise” and “Stuck on you”. The music went downhill after that and these mp3s are mostly of a poor imatation of Alice Cooper.

November 14, 2005

Van Der Graaf Generator again

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 12:04 am Comments (0)

I’ve been out of the habit of going to gigs for a few years now since leaving Manchester a few years ago – but even before I was gradually feeling a bit too old to be ‘down with the kids’. Now I’ve been back since April and I’ve hardly been out at all. But tonight I went to a gig – Van Der Graaf Generator at the Broadwater Hall. I also saw them a few months ago in Liverpool. I loved it – imagine the feelings of seeing a band that meant so much when in your young teens. Four old men playing music on a stage but what music!

July 16, 2005

Van Der Graaf Generator

Filed under: nostalgia — @ 9:53 pm Comments (0)

I saw Van Der Graaf in Liverpool last week. It was my first gig in a long time (I’ve been living on the edge of civilisation for a few years). It was weird knowing every note of every song but not remembering the song titles. It was a 70s Prog Rock overload and showed that old men can still do it (play double sax and belt out near-operatic vocals, that is). This was a trip down memory lane for the converted. They are probably the only “70s” band I still love – I spent most of the time alone listening to Iggy and the MC5 but even I couldn’t avoid listening to the excesses of Yes, Genesis, and Tull. The absolute highlight was a rendetion of In The End, a song I associate with Hammill as a solo artist but was actually a Van Der Graaf song. This was the first song I played when I set up my stereo in my last house. I don’t think it has good Karma (left the house, months of nowhere to live and now just a temporary 6 month rent in Manchester) but it is pure theatrical overload for any muso.

« Previous PageNext Page »