All The Pretty Horses…


Where It’s At #3
September 10, 2006, 4:27 pm
Filed under: Where It's At

now the festival season has drawn to a close, I can start nesting again and spend sometime under roof rather than canvas.. And I can start playing music, reading books and watching movies again.

Reading:
Craig Werner: A Change Is Gonna Come: Music, Race and the Soul of America
a brilliant book thus far, a history of black music from gospel to the present day, pretty much, which shows quite wonderfully Werner (to quote a very pompous review) “has mastered the extremely difficult art of writing about music as both an aesthetic and social force that conveys, implies, symbolizes, and represents ideas as well as emotions, but without reducing its complexities and ambiguities to merely didactic categories.” I.E., he has a great way of tying in the music with the social and cultural forces that give rise to it. So far it’s covered gospel, the birth of Motown and the career of Sam Cooke – the shift from religious to secular, then. It’s got the kind of scope and erudition Greil Marcus has, but it a MUCH easier read (and has yet to mention the Mekons). Anyway, great stuff. Oh, and Werner has a blog too, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet so it might be arse.

Watching:
Soul Deep (BBC)

brilliant, brilliant six-part Beeb series I watched at the time but have just loaded using the wonders of bittorrent. It’s all good, although it rather rushes the last 30 years. But if it cost that to have such excellent coverage of the sixties, then so be it. Best episode for me is the one on Stax, which as well as covering the likes of Redding and the obvious Stax / Atlantic artists, gives some time to James Carr, who fucked up really badly but still recorded the definitive Dark End of The Street, which tends to leave me in bits. Great footage, and a great show. Still no sign of a proper DVD release, which is fucking dumb in my opinion.

Oh, and the Family Guy. I assumed all those people claiming Family Guy was better than the Simpsons were just trying too hard. They weren’t.

Listening:
Judee Sill – Heartfood / Judee Sill.
As woebot pointed out, it can be a little sickly but there’s so much heartbreak and sense of a hard life lived, it wins you over in the end. And anyway, once you’ve got some Laura Nyro, it gets easier to appreciate this stuff..

Dory Previn – all of it.
Another singer/songwriter type people have been rediscovering. Can’t remember where I first heard Lady With The Braid, but it’s come up a lot in the meantime. This song alone justifies the rest of her sad and curious career – totally unique, it’s one side of a conversation between a desperately lonely woman and the man she’s seducing. She’s nervous, her small talk is awkward, painfully so, and then she blurts out

“would you care to stay till sunrise, it’s completely your decision
It’s just the night cuts through me like a knife
would you care to stay a while and save my life?
would you care to stay a while and save my life?”

And there’s not a dry eye in the house. When you know the back story, it hurts all the more.

Youngblood Brass Band – Word On The Streets
As mentioned in the Electric Picnic write-up below, Youngblood Brass Band are a fantastic live act but it works on record too. An updating of the New Orleans brass band / second line tradition with pretty effective hip-hop leanings – staccato percussion, b-boy basslines from a souzaphone (surely the only instrument you wear?), conscious rhymes from the MC / drummer. But pulled off with enough style to avoid being gimmicky – these guys clearly love both their Nawleans jazz and their beats..

My Morning Jacket: Okonokos
Had a place in my heart for these Louisville hairfarmers for ages – they’ve managed to freshen up a kind of southern rock / Neil Young thing without losing the warmth of that sound. Somehow managed to avoid them every time they’ve played London, but this new live album does the job nicely. It’s a monster 21 tracks but covers all their best tunes – it’s the mental version of One Big Holiday that does it for me.

Mahalia Jackson / Swan Silvertones / 5 Blind Boys Of Alabama
bits n pieces of all these acts and more.
I remember one marvellous Sunday sunrise on the beach in Metaponto last year, playing reggae on the Unsound rig as the sun came up over the sea to a crowd of nicely munted people. As the sun finally cleared the water, it seemed inspired to play Oh Happy Day by The Edwin Hawkins Singers, 5 minutes of sheer joy. A few people got it – arms swaying, yelling along with the chorus, all that. And yet some fools came up and started harassing me about playing “some religious shit” and ruining “their buzz”. Since before that I’d been playing The Congos, Big Youth, Yabby You and Johnny Osbourne, I was tempted to kick sand in their ignorant faces. I settled for pretending I couldn’t hear them.

Can you see them now
Canyou see them now
Can you see the sisters swinging

Let’s go back to church
Let’s go back to church
So damn long since we sung the song
Let’sgo back to church
Let’s go back to church
Let’s go back to church
Anyday now, anyway anyhow
Let’s go back to church

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Where It’s At #2
July 26, 2006, 5:57 pm
Filed under: Where It's At

Ashamed to say I’m still reading the Cormac McCarthy book – it’s too hot to concentrate so I’ve been reverting to my usual culture slut tendencies and just reading magazines. Book reviews are especially good – saves all the effort of reading the bloody things, I can get a decent precis AND have an informed opinion for precisely no effort.

 Been hammering my soulseek connection lately though, very excited about new music (or new to me) again after a period of resting on my back catalogue laurels (the Handsome Family were getting, ahem, ‘rinsed’ in my house for the longest time).

High On Fire – Blessed Black Wings
this is an IMMENSE album. As a mate of mine pointed out, it’s hard to work out if I’m giving something that normally wouldn’t bother me – a kind of ‘none more black’ metal / stoner hybrid – ear-time simply because it’s been touched by the hand of Albini, but who cares? It’s really very very fucking heavy and in this oppressive heat it breaks up the ennui!

Outputmessage – Nebulae
lovely clanky old skool beautiful electronic wibbling. God, describing dance music is a pisser, isn’t it?

The Klaxons – The Bouncer
It’s a pretty shoddy idea – a kind of noisy indie percussive take on the Kicks Like A Mule classic. But bugger me if it doesn’t work a treat….

In addition to hammering soulseek, i’ve also got myself a shiny new 8mbps broadband connection and I’m slowly coming to terms with the dark arts of bit torrent and DVD authoring (fuck me, that stuff is complicated) so I’m downloading both all the multiplex movies I didn’t risk my hard-earned on AND the arthouse classics I’ve never got round to watching. In summary, The Island is absolute toilet, possibly the worst film I’ve seen (and I’ve seen Shakespeare In Love AND American Beauty, so I know what I’m talking about). And Come & See (Idi i Smotri) made me want to chew off my own feet at the sheer horror of it all.

So that’s nice.



Where It’s At #1
July 19, 2006, 1:27 pm
Filed under: Where It's At

Reading:

Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing. 

Middle book in the Border trilogy, brilliant mid-20th century Mexamericana full of landscapes and hardships and boys becoming men 

Listening:

Johnny Dowd – lots of albums

The most fucked-up of the different voices lumped together as ‘alt.country’ or whatever the hell. Very warped, very junkyard-noisy but full of noise and imagery and sadness.

The Tiger Lillies – lots of albums

Much more than the amusing scatolo-cabaret act I’d pegged them as. Like a gypsy / Brechtian spin on the kind of sailors’n’midgets subjects Tom Waits deals in.

Burial – Burial

I’ll spare the world another blog entry on dubstep. Suffice to say this is beautiful and haunting and funereal and involving.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band / Rebirth Brass Band / Preservation Hall Jazz Band – various

Lots and lots of New Orleans jazz – funeral marches and gospel songs and other ‘Big Easy’ classics. This stuff is magnificent.

 

I’ll bang one of these ‘Where It’s At’ posts up every now and again, if nothing else because it’ll serve as a kind of aide memoire of my own passions..