Week 18 - Fri 30 Apr
Welcome to the RPM Record Club Seven Day Soundtrack, week ending Friday 30th April. Flick that switch, turn that dial and luxuriate for a few hours in the wash of glorious sound emanating from your speakers brought to you by................
"Hi folks........Hope you're all well. Enjoyed last week's choices as ever. Managed to piggyback off free Wifi to contribute this time.
2 tracks inspired by listening to Oumar Toure of Songhoy Blues on MaryAnn Hobbs's show this week. Sometimes you just want & need jangly, percussive chaos, albeit with finely crafted musicality to help you bounce along. Take care, everyone "
Sweet Jane by The Velvet Underground - 3rd choice is an homage to a fab RPM'er who very kindly helped me shift boxes out of storage for a few hours & is providing horticultural guidance. Thanks, Jayne (a.k.a. Araminta 😁)
"Hi folks. This week I have chosen a three ‘folk’ music tracks.
My first choice is the kind of thing that first comes to mind when I hear mentioned the words ‘Folk Music’, This is the third track on John Renbourn’s first album, (still glorious in my opinion)."
Song (John Donne’s poem put to music) by John Renbourn -
"But if poked to think a little harder about the term, I might come up with this, originally recorded by ‘The Dixie String Band’ in 1927 and, subsequently by dozens of artists in various genres.
Many of you may recognise it as having been ‘the basis’ for a tune, which for the last eighty years has been known, loved, and awaited, with eager anticipation, in darkened halls, and eventually homes, ever since the theme was ‘borrowed’ and rearranged, in 1937, by Cliff Friend and Dave Franklyn, and given the title ‘The Merry Go Round Broke Down’ for the purpose of use for the signature tune of those iconic ‘Loony Tunes’ cartoons."
"My favourite version …."
Chinese Breakdown performed by Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers -
"The first ever recording of House of the Rising Sun, was by ‘The Carolina Tarheels’. The first ever recording of ‘Banks of the Ohio ‘was also by ’The Carolina Tarheels’.
The Carolina Tarheels included amongst others, the unrelated Fosters Gwen and Garley and the consummate fiddler, Clarrence Ashley.
The fiddler was considered by Harry Smith, important enough to have four of his recordings included on his seminal collection, ‘The Anthology of American Folk Music’ the influence of which, has often been cited as having kicked off (what was given the appellation, by one of its greatest proponents, Mike Seeger, of the ‘New Lost City Ramblers’) ‘The Great American Folk Music Scare’ of the 1950’s .
Due to a renewed interest in his work Clarence Ashley was invited to attend folk festivals in Chicago in 1962 and in Newport, in 1963, which was also attended, and performed at by by Bob Dylan, whom, having learned the song from Dave Van Ronk, had in 1961, recorded one of the songs that Clarence Ashley had learned from his maternal Grandmother and recorded in 1933. Where ‘The Animals’ learned it is an easy guess!
His former associates no longer available, Clarence Ashley took with him, and effectively introduced to a much wider audience, his youthful accompanist, the extraordinarily talented blind guitarist Doc Watson."
Omie Wise performed by Clarence Ashley -
"I may return to the theme in future weeks........."
"Good news - I’ve had my second vaccination! Not so good news- I had a freak off balance moment on my garage drive...........Now you will understand my theme this week. It’s black and blue like my bruises. Keep safe everyone. Cheers"
"Here's my 3....."
"I trust that all RPM collaborators are well. Thank you for your considered offerings each week; much appreciated. Here are my three…"
White Rum by Earl Lindo/Tommy McCook and The Supersonics -
Urban Driftwood by Yasmin Williams (featuring Amadou Kouyate) -
Holy Ground by Wolfstone - "Walking Tessy Dog, I pass a sign everyday in the church yard at the rear of the house which tells me this is holy ground........makes me think of this song every time."
"Well done for spreading the word re: Jimmie Vaughan and the Thunderbirds......heavy rain and hail for us this morning but the music won't mind. I've had a mad week spent buying even more cheap 45's at a car boot and also an indoor market. The car boot ones were mainly American - ok but tatty sleeves. The ones from the indoor market in much better condition and mostly in the correct sleeves all at 50p a pop but unfortunately covered in gummy stickers which I've spent all week surgically removing. Standout purchases were a Marvin Gaye EP "Originals from..." and a withdrawn version of the Small Faces' single "My Minds Eye".
Some should give me inspiration for another week but... Here's my 3 that were already on the conveyor belt. Best wishes to everyone as always, Cheers."
Angel from Montgomery performed by Bonnie Raitt - "A song written by John Prine and performed immaculately by Bonnie Raitt. She's the daughter of John Raitt who was a star of Musical theatre around the 1950's."
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight by Richard and Linda Thompson - "Here's the title song from one of their albums which remains a real favourite of mine....."
Witch's Promise by Jethro Tull - "There can't be many lead singers around who double up on the flute. Ian Anderson is a colourful character to say the least and would do well in any Gurning contest. Unfortunately this offering on youtube is mimed and you can definitely see the joins but a great song nonetheless."
"Hi Everyone, hope you're keeping fit and well. Here's three that have graced the turntable this week...."
Many Are Called, But Few Get Up by Man (featuring John Cipollina) -
"Hi RPMers, hope you are all well . Enjoying your tunes here’s my 3."
"I'm sure all RPMers will agree that it is marvellous to see that paragon of probity, Mr. Dominic "Career Psychopath" Cummings standing up for proper standards in political life. (To quote Ted Hastings in "Line of Duty," "Mother of god! When did we stop caring about honesty and integrity?" I bet Mr. Dunbar particularly enjoyed delivering that line).
On to the music: I have to confess that I didn't buy any of this week's choices back in the day, but I have them all on CD and have played them this week. Why did I not buy them in the '70s? Well, I would say that it was because at the time I thought of them all as not being "cool" or "hip."
What a silly (and sometimes pernicious) way of looking at things.
The first two are by bands that are among the biggest names in pop, while the third is a one-hit wonder... or is it?"
Rhiannon by Fleetwood Mac - "I remember being impressed by a performance of this shown on "The Old Grey Whistle Test," yet I still didn't buy it. The foolishness of youth!"
Jive Talkin' by The Bee Gees - "They were about as "unhip" as you could get in the mid-70s. Apparently it was label-mate Eric Clapton who suggested they should try recording in Miami, and they stayed at the same address he had used some months previously; 461 Ocean Boulevard."
Shame, Shame, Shame, by Shirley and Company - "One hit wonder? Consider some of the people involved. It was written and produced by Sylvia Robinson (Mickey and Sylvia- "Love is Strange"), solo hit in 1973 with "Pillow Talk," co-owner of All Platinum Records and co-founder of Sugarhill Records in which capacity she was influential in the early days of rap music. "Shirley" is Shirley Goodman (Shirley and Lee- "Let The Good Times Roll"). The male vocalist who outshines her on her own record, however, is one Jesus Alvarez, who had no further hits, and changed his name to "Jason," becoming a pastor. (Yes, he was pastorized)."
"With apologies for that joke, and best wishes to all RPMers."
"Following on from the other week, three more from my 1971 purchases....."
Yours is no Disgrace by Yes (from 'The Yes Album') - "Here's an early Jon Anderson co-composition (with long time friend David Foster) relating to US troops who, due to the draft, had little alternative but to serve in the Vietnam war. Yes had already made their anti-war thoughts plain in 'Harold Land' on their debut album but here the lyrics draw a subtle comparison between the returning troops and the Los Angeles party scene that had continued to thrive during their enforced absence. Initially a simply constructed song, during recording each group member contributed differing instrumental passages which saw the song mutate into an almost ten minute epic. Such was the track's popularity that it was even issued as a single in some markets and also continued to be an integral part of the bands live appearances throughout the intervening years. Fifty years ago next week (3rd May 1971) I saw the Yes/If/Egg tour at Donny Top Rank, still one of the best gigs I ever went to!"
You Burned the Tables on Me by Jack Bruce- "Jack's backing group here is Sheffield's second best guitarist Chris Spedding, fresh from recording a brace of albums with (Ian Carrs) Nucleus, and that bands drummer John Marshall, with Bruce pitching in on piano, Hammond organ, cello and harmonica to help fatten out the sound. Lyrics, as usual, are courtesy of Peter Brown who had contributed to Cream's output from their second single through to their final album and continued to work with Bruce throughout his solo career. This track is the only one on the album engineered by Andy Johns who had produced albums for Free, Humble Pie and Blodwyn Pig in the previous two years and would go on to engineer albums for the Rolling Stones, Led Zep, Jethro Tull, Rod Stewart and many others. 'You burned....' features stellar guitar from Spedding and is probably the nearest to a generic 'rocker' on a really varied album which takes in hard jazz, power trio rock, folk and even a touch of calypso to close out the album. Respected author and filmmaker Tony Palmer reviewed it as "The music flows precisely out of the nuances of the words; their meanings inexplicably linked with the kind of sound produced. It’s almost impossible to imagine the songs being performed in any other way by any other group of musicians." It's rumoured that the music for the album was composed in one mammoth afternoon piano session in Bruce's flat and the results offered wholesale to Brown for him to work on the lyrics. 'Harmony Row' itself was the Glasgow tenement slum where Bruce spent his childhood and the cover photo was taken in a similar slum which, at over one mile long was Europe's longest tenement building and was demolished soon after the photo was taken."
Return of the Giant Hogweed by Genesis - "An early ecology warning here from Peter Gabriel, probably inspired by a story in the Guardian in July 1970 about several young children in Edinburgh receiving serious burns after coming into contact with the hogweed. The plant can also cause blindness if the sap enters the eye! Of course, this being Gabriel he expands the story, and the threat, by taking it on to 'Day of the Triffids' proportions. However, he does tell us the method of handling the plant safely in the lyrics (the hogweed can actually be safely handled at night as the toxin in the sap is activated by sunlight) whereas in the Triffid book it turns out the deadly plant 'dissolves' in seawater. Unlike the Triffids book (one of the earliest science fiction books I read) where mankind is saved by the accidental discovery, Gabriel's musical tale ends with the warning "Botanical creature stirs, seeking revenge. Soon they escaped, spreading their seed, preparing for an onslaught, threatening the human race." ......... "Mighty Hogweed is avenged. Human bodies soon will know our anger. Kill them with your Hogweed hairs." In common with VDGG, the band toured extensively in the UK and Europe (including a Charisma 'six bob' tour with Lindisfarne and VDGG*) which did not lead to increased album sales in the UK but did see them initially gain popularity in Italy. Despite this being the first album to feature the 'classic' line up, it would be 1974 before the album reached the UK top forty. Replaying the track again this week I can still see why it appealed to the King Crimson/VDGG fan in me thanks to the extended instrumental outro which throws together a Fripp inspired guitar solo with Bantonesque organ parts. Perhaps Hammill should have considered '..... Hogweed' for his soon come 'covers' album which includes Peggy Lee's 'Folks who live on the hill', poet Fabrizio De Andre's 'Hotel Supramonte', Burly chassis's 'I (who have nothing)', two pieces by Piazzola and one each from Mahler and Faure amongst others........... sounds like fun!! I was quite looking forward to a cover version of VDGG's usual gig warm-up number, 'Strawberry Fields Forever', but it doesn't seem to have made the cut.
* My memory of the Sheffield gig on the 27th January 1971 was that Genesis were 'unavailable' and were replaced by either Bell+Arc (probably), Audience (possibly) or String Driven Thing (maybe!!) but I haven't been able to confirm this as yet."
"Second jab in the arm........... still feel nervous tho' when we do go out and, for the moment, we are still 'clicking and collecting' each week. Great choices again last week: Psychic TV and the Cowboy Junkies (someone I've been meaning to check out for years) and Marianne, what can you say! It looks like I've gotta listen to some more Earthless, some great guitar on the clip (thanks Tim!!) and 'New Rose'....... one of the great debut singles (thanks in no small part to the Shangri Las intro) which was the first 'punk' single to be released. The Damned were also the first punkers to release an album and tour the US before they began a revolving series of break ups, new line ups and reformations.
"Two oldies and a newbie, this week........"
The New St George by Richard Thompson - "From RT's first LP, Starring as Henry the Human Fly.....they don't make titles like that anymore.....it was 1972, remember? Even though a fair few years have passed, the lyrics still remain relevant, especially with the fresh round of shenanigans from Mr Johnson this week. Will probably be having more RT in the forthcoming weeks as I've just finished reading his book Beeswing: Fairport, Folk Rock and Finding My Voice 1967-75, so intend to dig out the releases from the years covered by the memoir."
Fire at Static Valley by God Speed You Black Emperor - " New album At States End is the expansive, aurally cinematic musical landscape of the past 13 months..........not the jolliest tunes around, therefore, but deeply atmospheric......and I can't stop listening to this track in particular."
See Emily Play by Pink Floyd - "It's brilliant! Our new abode is 2 mins walk from the community run library where I found, straight off, two recent novels I've been wanting to read right there on the shelves. One of those books is Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell, of which I'm about half way through. It's the tale of the rise and (I suspect, tragic / messy) fall of a late 60s rock band, the title referencing Utopia Avenue, in fact. The book had a mixed response when it was published but I think it's great. The characters are fully formed and believable, the descriptions and attention to detail are evocative of the places in which the story is set (mostly late 60s London but there is also Gravesend and Ely) and Mitchell manages to intertwine musos of the period into the tale as well; Sandy Denny, Brian Jones, David Bowie, Mark Bolan and Pink Floyd for example. See Emily Play has been running through my head as the perpetual soundtrack of this book, especially the really cool initial bass line set against the keyboard, which is genius, in my view."