Music Diary #40 – Construction Faults

There are a lot of contradictions in music……I can listen to The Fall, followed by John Coltrane, followed by Nick Drake, followed by Man, and followed by Bruce Springsteen – all of these fit quite neatly somewhere in my, admittedly, hideously large album collection. So whilst I would readily admit that post “The River” I feel that Mr Springsteen has lost some of his most appealing aspects I can easily listen to what he does with some degree of pleasure. However it is safe to say that I have not revisited his recent output to the same frequency I have his first three albums.

So what is the new one like? Well there is a bit of kidology in the opening track in that you think you are going to get a typical Bruce album – all anthemic and fists punching to Max Weinberg’s four to the floor beat – but after that it quickly moves into Seeger Sessions mode with “Easy Money” and “Shackled And Drawn”  mining americana in a blues, folk and country way.

“Jack of all Trades” similarly   gets all heartfelt, emotional and moody in a John Steinbeck sort of way with Springsteen doing his now legendary man of the people tune.  You can see the lighters coming in on in the crowd on this one, people swaying back and forth as Bruce wipes the sweat from his brow. Lyrically compelling and quite fascinating but musically I don’t know really – it sort of rescues itself with a guitar solo coda but I’ve heard it all before.

“Death to My Hometown” however is something slightly  different coming through across a Mighty Max backbeat with some sort of mutant gospel/african chant – Springsteen does something different with his voice which works well – however the arrangement does tend towards a celidh  towards the end (the good lady was surprised  it was Springsteen said “this sounds like something you would hear at a St Patrick Nights  party”).

“This Depression” is a curates egg of a thing – a typical Springsteen ballad mixed with an odd arrangement of soaring guitars and choirs. Most perplexing.

The title track “Wrecking Ball” is Bruce channeling “Freewheeling” era Bobby Z as we dance the barn again around the campfire. I suppose the argument is that we should all go out and dance about and have a few beers whilst the world is going through economic hell? Once again a curve ball on the arrangement throws the song into some sort of parallel universe rock middle eight before it returns to Woody Guthrie land and  then the  obligatory three note chant coda which the audience will all join in with when played live.

“You’ve Got It” sees Mr S doing his best Elvis impression via Gene Vincent….nice slide guitar and hanclaps….but nothing that breaks free of a well known repertoire…….

“Rocky Ground” does however does offer something new  at least in the music – a bit of rap and an impressive soulful vocal from The Boss…..we also get a good reworking of “Land of Hope and Dreams” (previously on the live Madison Square Gardens Album) which mixes soul and rock to create the complete Springsteen package – probably the best thing on the album – and I assume the last song to feature Clarence – made me a bit sad when I heard it.

The closing “We Are Alive” is an odd little beast of a thing – all a bit lo-fi at the start and clearly some sort of hommage to Clemons  in some part… builds into one of those celidh/barn dance things….

Overall then all a little disappointing – a couple of gems but generally pretty much what we have come to expect over the last few albums. Personally I would rather listen to Kill Pretty.

Music Diary #18 – 18th January 2012 & Aural Delights Radio Show

So i’m currently wending my way through the massive slab of music that is the new Crippled Black Phoenix  album ((Mankind) The Crafty Ape and I’m wondering why it’s sounding so much like “Dark Side of the Moon”  at the beginning – pleased to advise though it sorts itself out from track three onwards and turns out to be a rather interesting slab of progressive post-rock.  There are two CDs worth here so if you are going to take the plunge then I suggest you set aside an evening to give it a good chance of being heard in totality as that’s the best way to do it.

Also being listened to is Dale Cooper Quartet with the Dictaphones  whose new album is called “Metamanoir” ; again the influence of mid period Floyd tends to bubble under the floating synthesis – this is being described by those in the know as Dark Jazz whatever the hell that means? – there is a definite laminal ambient ECM feel to it with its breathy tenor and shimmering guitar chords – the vocals echo ’50s cool jazz……albeit the lyrics are a tad maudlin in places (I suppose that’s the dark part of the jazz?).  Bit of a grower this one I think.

Note that Mr Springsteen has a new album due (and tour) which is described by Rolling Stone as “wild” —– hmmm, we will see.

Anyway on this weeks Aural Delights Radio Show  we have an interesting balance of indie, rock and prog (some of it nu-prog) – you can check out more information about the artists on their varicose Farcebook pages as linked below, and we conclude as usual with a Kiwi Farley Fumble…….listen here

1 Hong Kong in the 60s Footprints Willow Pattern Songs
2 Streaming Lights it’s a Mystery Single
3 Aperture Good to Know You Demo
4 Disappears Hibernation Sickness Pre Language
5 Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton Phasers Set to Stunning EP
6 The Mike Gatto Band The Phone Box Single
7 Burning Buildings Knowing, Not Knowing The Sleep Tapes
8 The Tapestry Take Turns Single
9 Magnetic Island The Thing Itself and Not the Myth Magnetic Island
10 Van Der Graaf Generator Ship of Fools I Prophecy Disaster
11 Limbs What Will Happen Olympics
12 Trojan Horse and the lights went down…. Trojan Horse
13 Blood Ceremony I’m Coming With You Blood Ceremony
14 Peter Gutteridge Don’t Catch Fire Stroke – Songs for Chris Knox

aural delights – 2nd March 2011 – 11pm (Farley’s Fumbles Special)

Regular listeners to this show and its predecessor “Reformation” will know  there is a semi-regular feature called “Farleys Fumbles” which is essentially a series of musical selections  by my chum Fothergill Farley aka Mark Harris.

I have not been able to play any “Fumbles ” for a while so I set aside some time in diary to record a show with a good selection of them. Mark emigrated to New Zealand last year and has been living and working in Christchurch . I was putting this show together before the earthquake hit that city, and recorded it before the event so there is no reference to it in the show. We spent a few anxious hours waiting to see if Mark was OK and thankfully he was. Others were not as fortunate so this show comes at a difficult time for all in Christchurch and New Zealand as a whole.

I dedicate the show to the good people of NZ , especially the fire and rescue service, and all those working hard to assist in recovery from this disaster.  The show is also dedicated to the memory of those who lost their lives.

  1. The Fall – Hey Student – Middle Class Revolt – originally called “Hey Fascist” in the early days of The Fall this powerful piece of garage rock finds Mark E. Smith at his most acerbic with bile directed in any number of directions. Pearl Jam fans look away now!
  2. Cornelius – New Music Machine – Fantasma – Japanese pop-noise artist Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada) is a self-taught guitarist inspired early   by Kiss and Black Sabbath, his musical alias was  chosen from  a character in the Planet of the Apes film series. His merging of pop and avant garde on this 1998 album is refreshing. Farley Fumble #01.
  3. Amplifier – The Wave – The Octopus – I’ve had this double album for a few weeks now and have been wanting to play something from it. Guitarist/vocalist Sel Balamir formed the band with drummer Matt Brobin and bassist Neil Mahony in the early 2000s in the heart  of  the post-punk madness of Manchester. They owe no allegiance to the Madchester sound offering a more progressive rock agenda. This self released third album is an epic piece of writing and performance. Show favourite Charlie Barnes guests on keyboards.
  4. Fairport Convention – Now Be Thankful –  The History of Fairport Convention – Arguably the best British folk-rock band of the late ’60s, they did more than their contemporaries to develop an authentic variation on the folk-rock prototype by drawing upon traditional material and styles. This 1972 album is a good primer for the earlier work of the band. Farley Fumbles #02′
  5. New Order – Procession –  Substance – as I remark on the show their is an uncanny resemblance between the opening and closing sections of this song and “Watcher of the Skies” from “Foxtrot” by Genesis. Substance collects the best of New Orders  remixes, and in doing so showcases the  innovative nature of their work, but also the best of their songwriting. Farleys Fumble #03.
  6. Glassheads – Young Lady – Demo Track – another demo from this new band from Wigan.
  7. Spirit – I gotta line on you – The Family That Plays Together – a bit of an indulgence from me with a classic. The second Spirit album, from 1968 saw the group put all of the elements together that made them legends.  The album’s hit single, “I Got a Line on You,” has strong vocal harmonies as well as one of the greatest rock riffs of the period.
  8. Lilys – The Hermit Crab – Ecsamme The Photon Band – ostensibly the vehicle of singer/songwriter Kurt Heasley, the group’s founder and sole constant member. Their third album from 1995 dabbles in dream pop, a genre they soon abandoned. Farleys Fumble #04.
  9. PJ Harvey – To talk to you – White Chalk – her new album has got mixed reviews with obvious comparisons made to the excellent album which features on this show. Some would argue she needs to strap on an electric guitar and get back to the harder side of her work. Farleys Fumble #05.
  10. Greg Allman – I can’t be satisfied –  Low Country Blues – his first album in four years Gregg has teamed up with T-Bone Burnett to re-imagine obscure blues tunes. A very satisfying record and probably his best solo effort to date.
  11. Bruce Springsteen – Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street – The Prodigal – this classic song from the first Springsteen album is re-released in a revised form on the recent Prodigal album. This is Bruce at his most playful with strong lyrics and a great song which shows strong influences.
  12. Portishead – Chase the Tear – Chase The Tear – Portishead joined forces with Amnesty International to release  this tracks  on the eve of International Human Rights Day. Farleys Fumble #06.
  13. Danny Short – Rossiter – Love Has Gone. To signal the release of our second free download – Danny’s Reputation EP – click here to get your FREE copy  -I feature a track from his excellent new album “Love Has Gone” which will be released in April.
  14. Amplifier – The Chase – Fractal – those of us who bought “The Octopus” album mentioned above also got a free digital EP a couple of weeks ago which features improvisations from the sessions that produced the album.
Listen to the show by clicking on the link below……..

Aural Delights 2nd March 2011 by Bobonscr on Mixcloud