Don’t we all?

with a head full of nonsense I ran from the kitchen holding a mug and a sugar ring donut, which was falling to pieces all over the carpet, while I’m spilling coffee all over the floor.

I could have laughed when I realised.  Instead I cursed and threw words from my mouth.

I’ve spent the last few days trying to finish a post about Post Pop Depression.  On Thursday I figured it just needed a couple of pictures, which I took on Friday night.  Then, just before I hit publish, I did that proof reading thing… something I rarely do… and immediately I wanted to edit it.  Add and remove bits and pieces.  “what if that doesn’t make sense?  what if someone wants to know more…?”  None of it required, of course.  But the amendments were made.  Or at least started.  Now it’s unrecognisable and, largely, incoherent.

So it joins another sixteen draft posts.

Jeez.

And it’s got me thinking.  I have little or no direction here.  I never have done and while that’s not a bad thing, I’m not entirely happy with what I’m doing.  There are posts I’m happy with and posts that I’m not happy with.

Y’see, I write… I get distracted… I follow a thread and lose the other end.  It gets tangled.  I get frustrated untangling and it gets more tangled.  A big tangled mess of words.  So I bin it.  Or at least leave it with the intention to go back to it.  But I know I wont… and I never do.

Clean slate.  Start again.  I love this album… but I struggle to find the motivation to write and I struggle to write when I find the motivation.  Why can’t I articulate why I like Iggy Pop (or for anyone for that matter)?

I write too much… to a point that I delete stuff.  Or edit.  Again.

Delete.  Edit.  Start again.

Edit.  Delete.  Repeat.

To a point that it’s no longer cohesive.  Again.

It’s not passion.  It’s rambling.

I just can’t make sense of it.

Focus, Jim… focus.

I usually have about ten posts at any one time sitting in the drafts.  I currently have seventeen.  Seventeen.  Unfinishedly unfinished.  Not a phrase, but I’m the writer here and I’ll take it.

And that got me thinking about stuff.

I’m a husband and a father.  Also a friend.  I’ve been working in the same job for nearly 10 years and it has its moments.  I’m vinyl daft.  Music daft.  I also happen to, occasionally, write and sing songs (though I don’t really identify with that any more).  I sometimes feel anxious about stuff.  Daft stuff.  Stuff that really isn’t important: Like forgetting keys.  Or a phone charger.  Or dropping a fork.

Or writing the wrong thing.  The wrong date.  Or not posting the right video in the right place.

I have an anxiety disorder.

But that’s fine.

I worry about my kids.  My wife.  My friends.  Don’t we all?

I have friends I haven’t seen in months… or years.  I wish I had more time and that I made more effort to see people I give a damn about.  Again, don’t we all?  I also wish I got to the post office and posted that book or CD that I keep meaning to.

I wish I made different choices at times.  I wish I wasn’t so impulsive.  Saying things when I should perhaps just smile and nod.  Or not smile and nod and say something.  I try not to be impulsive or compulsive.  I’m not organised.  I can’t organise.  I need direction.  A nudge.  A rudder.

Though… sometimes I can organise.  So there.

I’m easily distracted.  Or a distraction.  Is it possible to be both?  I guess so.

I can obsess over things.  I discover something new and I need to know all about it / she / he / them right now.  Like nowNOW.  Even when it’s lights out.

I guess I’m a sucker for detail.  For sorting things.  Making sense of things.  But that takes up time, huh?  I could be doing other things when something’s really not all that important… so why do I need to do that now??

I pack information into zip files and store them in my head.

I can do the dishes in 20 minutes.

Or I can do the same amount of dishes but take over an hour.

I am slow.

I struggle to focus.  Always doing more than one thing at any time.  “I’ll just do this here while I wait for that there”… distracted… “oh, I forgot about that”.  Unless I’m given a nudge.  A steer.  Direction.

Not all the time, though.

I have four books that I want to read and I started all of them before I put them down cause that just wasn’t working out.  Focus, Jim.  Focus.

I perhaps expect too much of myself at times and, as a result, it disables rational thinking and I feel overwhelmed.

Perhaps I expect too much of others, too.

What am I saying?  I don’t really know.

But what I do know:

  • I love my family
  • I like music and I dig my modest record collection.  I listen to each of those records and I get to know them, too.  The sleeves and the grooves.  I like the listening ritual.  It takes time.  Care.  Attention.
  • My writing hasn’t gotten any better despite doing this for a while
  • I enjoy engaging with you folks
  • Sleep’s The Sciences is my album of the year so far
  • I also have less friends than social media suggests
  • I am currently obsessed with Earthless
  • I genuinely love Pacific Rim
  • David Lee Roth era Van Halen is amazing

Thanks for following, reading, and engaging here.  It’s appreciated.

And remember, an album, song, or artist doesn’t have to set the bar or be a game changer… but if they make you feel for a bit… feel anything… then we have a winner.  I mean, sometimes music isn’t just well crafted with lovely chords and words, but it takes me someplace else… it transcends being a sequence of notes of chords.  I love that.

Don’t we all?

 

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New Additions: Where’s the Danzig?

It was my Birthday at the end of March there and, naturally, some new records have somehow found their way into my collection (nestling snugly into the ‘need to listen’ pile).

I also decided to pick up an album that’s been on my list a wee while.

What are they?  It’s funny you should ask.

Rainer – Worried Spirits

Fire Records has been releasing Rainer’s albums at a bit of a snail’s pace, though they made some serious progress last year.  I had picked up Barefoot Rock a while back, but I’ve been waiting (im)patietly for my very favourite Rainer album to receive the vinyl release it deserves for a couple of years.  I had contacted Fire Records last summer to query whether it was on the cards and they didn’t let on that there were any imminent plans.  It was only via a vinyl group earlier in March that I learned it had been released… in December!!

Anyhoo, my wife picked it up for me and it was surprising to see that it’s on really lovely sun yellow vinyl.  This replaces an old Demon Records CD copy I had which was somehow misplaced or lost.  I love everything about this one and unreservedly so… from the front cover, the text, the album title, the song cycle.

My only gripe with the Fire reissue is that the track-listing on the back includes tracks that are available only via the download.  The release really could have benefited from a second slice of vinyl for the bonus cuts they’ve included.

Still, I’m not gonna complain, cause I have one of my absolute favourite albums and it sounds pretty brilliant.

These next two were purchased using a wee voucher I had got and they just arrived yesterday.

Earthless – From The Ages

Black Heaven has been on heavy rotation here and I’m on an Earthless kick (no bad thing).  I was looking for a copy of Rhythms From A Cosmic Sky on vinyl, but it was sold out and I thought I’d have a look for their last one instead, cause I wasn’t all that familiar with it cause I never really found the time to sit down and consume all 60+ minutes (30 minutes of that are the title track!).  I’ve yet to drop the needle on it, but I have been consuming all its enlightening glory via the instant download I’d received at the time of purchase and I’m looking forward to hearing how they split that title track!

Jeff Tweedy – Together At Last

This was a bit of a no-brainer, really (though I did ask JH if he’d heard it and if he’d recommend it).  It’s not often you see a record for less than a tenner, let alone one that was a) just released last year, b) by an artist you like a whole lot, and c) features a half dozen of your favourite tunes by that artist’s band.  Together At Last ticks all those boxes (or at least it did when I purchased it).  It’s basically Tweedy and his acoustic guitar performing tracks from his career (Golden Smog and Loose Fur, as well as Wilco).

Admittedly, I had been on the fence about this one, cause, well, I have the songs I really like and didn’t know what benefit having them again would be.  But this is pretty exceptional.  Intimate and fragile… and the versions of Via Chicago, Ashes Of American Flags, Muzzle of Bees, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart and I’m Always In Love are really pretty special.

Lastly, that album I finally decided it was time to pick up?

Screaming Trees – Last Words: The Final Recordings

Like a lot of records, this has been on my list for a long time.  That Mr. Yellowface guy kinda got me looking at copies online.  I spotted one for a tenner on eBay and thought “yeah, it’s time”.  There’s not much to look at – no liner notes or detailed credits, etc – but it’s a lovely slice of red vinyl (and the songs sound amazing).

And that’s it.

I reckon there’ll be something of a record buying break for a while as we weigh up life stuffs.

But I’ll definitely be writing stuff more often, though.

“All my dearest companions have always been villains and thieves”: Lionel Bart’s Oliver (1968)

Musicals.  An interesting genre, huh?  At one point they were rife.  However, these days it appears that Disney are the biggest champions of the musical.  Mostly animated characters expressing themselves with their dead eyes and dramatic hand gestures, with only the odd foray into the live action motion picture world.  Back in the day, it seems that every second picture was a musical.  Or at least that’s how it appeared during Bank Holidays.  As a youngster, enjoying those Bank Holidays, I was awfy fond of three musicals; Tom Thumb, Wizard Of Oz, and Oliver!  Truth be told, I’m still awfy fond of them.

The memories attached to those three are particularly strong.  Popular Festive Calendar flicks for the television companies, you could pretty much guarantee that we’d be sitting down to watch all of them over the school holidays.  Every year.  I never tired of them – mimicking characters and repeating lines while sharing the box of Roses or Quality Street that sat on the coffee table.  “That’s one for you… and two for me…” (that scene between Terry Thomas and Peter Sellars in Tom Thumb).

Anyhoo, when I spotted the Oliver!soundtrack among a bunch of undesirable records at the Record Fayre for £1 way back in October 2013 (I think), I didn’t hesitate to pick it up.  Y’see, as well as being a movie that I have a lot of attachment to, Lionel Bart’s songs here are really pretty incredible.  Hardly surprising, I guess (given Bart’s pedigree and the performances of some of the cast).

I’ve tried and it’s too difficult to pick out a favourite in an album of highlights.  My wife, however, still shakes her head when I reach for this LP.  Think again, I can hear her thinking as she scrolls through the spines of the LPs on the shelf and focuses her stare on something like The Fabulous Johnny Cash or even Neil Young’s Harvest (I still don’t think she’s warming to this one).  Anyhoo, me?  I reckon this is one of the very best musicals.

The late Ron Moody is stellar as Fagin and his performances here are rich, colourful, and full of character.  His tone and delivery on, say, You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two, immediately bring images of him on screen.  In fact, scrap that statement about hard to pick favourites, cause it’s easy – it’s Moody’s moments (this and Reviewing The Situation).  They’re just so enjoyable.

The ‘medley’ of Food, Glorious Food and Oliver! is memorable – I dare say most have whistled or sang the former while hurrying excitedly to the dining table, while Harry Secombe’s bellowed Boy For Sale is a dramatic shift in mood.  The strings convey dread and resignation… perhaps cause old Mr. Bumble hates roaming the street selling young kids.  Or he just doesn’t like bartering.  I actually really like Harry’s tune, though thinking about the scene is pretty grim.  As much as trekking the streets selling a kid probably isn’t a great deal of fun, there’s some really funny lines in there (“He’s going cheap… only seven guineas.  That or thereabouts”).

While Where Is Love? isn’t a bad song or anything, Lester’s vocal chops aren’t strong and I know that Moody’s Fagin is up next and we’re in for a treat!  See, it’s the introduction of Fagin and his gang that really lift proceedings and it’s at that point that the soundtrack (like the movie) comes to life.

There’s humour in the darkness of the themes throughout and, as I mentioned already, Moody’s performance as Fagin is really pretty brilliant.  He’s a shifty chap for sure, but he clearly likes the kids that he mentors.  While they’re obviously out stealing for him to earn a keep and what have you, they’re his family and you can see that with how he looks out for the new kid and his attachment to Dodger.  And this is all part and parcel of what makes Pick A Pocket Or Two so wonderful.  It’s jovial, the arrangements light and Moody’s delivery is magnificent.  Full of energy and hijinx.  Truly wonderful.

Mark Lester and Jack Wild’s Consider Yourself is another favourite.  Right now, it’s quite relevant too – welcoming strangers and such (“there isn’t a lot to spare.  Who cares!?  Whatever we’ve got we share!”).

Side 2 has the big hitters.  Moody’s back with Be Back Soon, which is relentless, really.  Fagin telling his proteges to fill their pockets, stay out of bother, and get back up the road for some kip.  Shani Wallis’ As Long As He Needs Me is a show stopper.  The kind that comes along like Bill Sykes and smacks you right in the gut and leaves you breathless.  I’m not talking Celine Dion (thanks, Canadialand) type emotion here, but the real heartbreak kind.  Dread.  Heart in mouth.  I’m going to be sick or cry kind.  The performance conveys the sheer devotion Nancy has to that (violent) bad bastard Bill Sykes.

I always liked Who Will Buy?  It’s the uptempo cheery number.  Probably the cheeriest, really.  Oliver awake in his new surroundings and looking out to a brand new day.  On yirself, Oli.

Anyhoo, moving on, it doesn’t get any better than Reviewing the Situation.  In fact (spoiler alert) the sub-plot here is as captivating as the age old tale of orphaned-lad-finds-happiness-with-rich-family.  It’s Fagin who really shines, with his insecurities and uneasiness comes to the surface a little more as he watches what’s happening around the young Oliver chap.  He longs to get out and, truth be told, he’d have given up this game years ago.  But the man has no family and these kids and the scoundrels (like the violent Bill Sykes) are all he has.  They keep him going.  They give him drive and purpose.  To feel important… wanted… loved… respected.  Anyhoo, Reviewing the Situation is all about that desire to get out and the insecurities that stop him.

I just realised that I don’t care too much for our lead character’s numbers.  Fancy that.  I don’t think they’re bad songs or anything like that, but they lack the vibrancy and the character of the others.  Mark Lester (a young lad, mind) doesn’t have the vocal chops or character to compete with the likes of Wallis, Secombe, or Moody.

And you know what, all that stuff I was saying about Fagin?  Well, Wallis’ wonderful Oom-Pah-Pah! is Nancy’s stand.  Creating a commotion that will allow them to do the right thing.  It all ends in heartache, though, but it’s rousing and joyous and it yet it’s tense.

Anyhoo, the Oliver soundtrack is a real joy.

Thanks for reading.

So, I guess I got to make some space…

I realised that I haven’t posted anything in a while.  I’ve just been a bit busy with some other stuff and I just can’t seem to find the time, or motivation, to get around to writing something here.  Truth be told, I’ve wondered whether or not just to quit posting, as I’d still feel part of the community; what with all the conversation off the back of interesting posts elsewhere.  But, y’know, here I am.

I recently bought some more of those nice ‘dust sleeves’ to put the vinyl in and I thought “maybe I’ll post a wee ‘here’s some new records’ type of post”.  I also spent a bit of time going through the collection.  I realised that I have a few of albums I don’t really bother with, cause I really kinda forgot that I had them.  There’s also a ton of stuff that I haven’t really gotten to yet… and there’s some stuff that I really should get to.

Anyhoo, what are the new additions?

Mythic Sunship – Upheaval

Yup, it’s that El Paraiso lot again.  Some incredible stuff on this one (naturally) and seriously, this is the soundtrack to Kaiju and Jaeger’s flattening cities.  I suggested this one to a pal of mine and he said it reminded him of yon Godspeed You! Black Emperor lot.  I don’t get that myself, right enough, but that should please some of you Canadialanders.

Walking Papers – WP2

As much as I loved the first Walking Papers album, this took me by surprise.  It’s really pretty brilliant… the sound of that first album replaced with all sorts of one-two punches.  And they roll with them.  It’s great hearing Duff McKagen’s playing on this kind of album and it highlights just how good that guy is.  Not just cause he’s Duff McKagen, but cause he’s one of the best bass players out there.  Fact.  As well as having some excellent lyrics (again) Angell’s playing is focussed and intense and Barrett Martin, as always, lays down some incredible percussion.  I’m really hoping the GN’R reunion doesn’t spell the end for these guys, cause it sounds like they’re just getting started.

Sacri Cuori – Douglas & Dawn / Rosario

Two Sacri Cuori releases that I didn’t previously own on vinyl.  Only cause I wasn’t vinyl daft at the time and instead opted for the smaller, compact disc variety.  Anyhoo, I found these cheap and I figured now was the time to buy them, as Sacri Cuori are brilliant and, regardless of how much I like them, I just keep liking them even more.  Although both albums are different sonically and texturally, they’re unmistakably the work of Antonio Gramentieri.  Plus, the Rosario cover was always one of the most beautiful looking in my CD collection.

Patterson Hood – Heat Lightning Rumbles In The Distance

I don’t think I’ve ever really spoke much about the Drive-By Truckers.  They’re a ridiculously talented bunch of songwriters and we’ve obvioulsy been seeing that over the last few years with Jason Isbell’s solo stuff.  Well, Patterson Hood has a couple, too.  The last of which was this one.  And it’s brilliant.  I dare say I love it more than Isbell’s stuff… but they’re different in subtle ways.  Anyhoo, the Isbell praise got me thinking how I’d love to own this one on vinyl.  I happened to find a copy cheap.  So here it is.

Blind Melon – Soup

Quite possibly my favourite purchase this year so far.  I was delighted to see this was reissued fairly recently, as I’ve been waiting for it since the reissue of the debut a few years back.  Turns out that it was reissued by not one, but two labels within months of each other.  I opted for the slightly more expensive remastered Analog Spark release over the Music On Vinyl one, cause I had read such good things about it.  I ordered from a US based seller on Discogs (with very, very reasonable postage costs) so it took a few weeks for it to arrive.  As you can imagine, I was pretty excited when it did, but I was a bit disappointed by some tearing on the front cover.  I hummed and hawed about sending it back (helluva wait, copies now more expensive), but the offer of a part refund, meant that all in all it cost me £14 and change.  How does it sound?  Great.  Genuinely pretty brilliant.

Damien Jurado – Where Shall You Take Me?

This is the 10th Anniversary Edition of my favourite Jurado album.  This 2 LP set includes some bonus material (a handful of reel to reel demos and the Just In Time For Something EP that was never made available on vinyl) and, while I’m not sure how often the second slice of vinyl will be played, I can tell you that the main album has already received a couple of spins.  This also happens to be an album that my wife is fond of, too… so it was extra special adding this one to the collection.

Blind Melon – Tones of Home EP

This was a surprising gift from my pal.  The second side includes very different tracks than advertised, and as much as I was looking forward to hearing the live version of Drive, I’m happy with the alternatives (a live version of Time – likely recorded at The Ritz in 1992 – and the unreleased Wooh D.O.G).

Earthless – Black Heaven

The (very early) contender for album of the year.  It’s like Black Sabbath meets The Black Crowes.  Can you imagine that?  It’s one that really gets its hooks in you and I dare say it will win them some new fans.  As I said elsewhere, there are plenty vocals, but the guitars still scorch the Earth.

As always, I’ll have plenty more to say about these when I get the chance.  Feel free to let me know whether you have any of them, dig them / don’t dig them, and tell me what the Hell you’ve been buying and gotten excited about recently.

Resurrection Songs’ Top 10 of 2017

A much delayed ‘year end list’.  So delayed, in fact, that if I left it any longer I really shouldn’t bother (which wouldn’t be the first time).  However, just as you’re all settled into 2018 and looking forward to a whole bunch of new releases, ol’ Jim here is reviewing 2017.

It was a pretty great year for releases from some of my favourite artists.  The year kicked off with a new album from The Flaming Lips and a remastered and remixed Texas Jerusalem Crossroads.  Then releases from The Afghan Whigs, Lanegan, Danny & The Champions of the World, Beck, and Queens of the Stone Age left me thinking that it couldn’t get any better… then Causa Sui dropped their second release of the year.

Anyhoo, here are my favourite releases of 2017.

#1 The Afghan Whigs – In Spades

The return of The Afghan Whigs a few years back was the best news I could have imagined. That they would release two inspired albums was more than I would have expected, but that’s what they’ve done.

In Spades is a dark, but lifting album. The loss of Dave Rosser has made the listening experience even more emotive. It’s weighty. It’s bittersweet. Most of all, though, it’s just pretty brilliant… that’s why it’s hard to look beyond it as my favourite of the year.

#2 The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

It was a tough call, but The Flaming Lips’ album is only pipped by The Afghan Whigs to top spot. Seriously close.

Oczy Mlody is a success on all levels. Less intense than The Terror, The Flaming Lips deliver an album that sits comfortably in the space between the heady ramshackle feel of their pre-Soft Bulletin material and the lush, sense exploding stuff that came afterward. This is an album to celebrate.

It’s also worth mentioning that the standard LP doesn’t include Listening To Frogs With Demon Eyes. Although on the digital version, I believe the track kinda pulls me out of the bliss state that the song cycle had me in. I’ll need to ask Wayne & Co. what they think.

#3 Causa Sui – Vibraciones Doradas

A surprise release from those Danish desert rockers, but easily one of the year’s top releases.  This is just as accessible as 2016’s Return To Sky, but this time out there’s a whole lot of dust and grit in those amps. Almost as if they left them outside to be battered by a sandstorm.

#4 Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

There hasn’t been an outpouring of love for this one. It’s been more a lukewarm “yeah, I kinda like it” response and I know some have been reaching for Songs For The Deaf and longing for days when Oliveri was weilding his bass axe and covering microphones in drool and a coating of spit and venom.  Which is fine, but Queens of the Stone Age are more than that and have been for quite some time.  In my opinion, their best albums don’t even feature the big guy.

Sure, it’d be nice to hear Lanegan on a Queens record again (cause who doesn’t want to hear Lanegan), but Villains finds Homme & Co. in great form.  It may not be as powerful or weighty as …Like Clockwork, but here they channel Led Zeppelin via Gary Numan with some ZZ boogie thrown in for good measure. It’s fun, dark, sinister, infectious. This is the sound of a band really having a great time in the studio.  This isn’t just a year’s best, this is top 3 Queens of the Stone Age stuff right here.

#5 Spoon – Hot Thoughts

First Spoon album I ever heard, this. Can you believe that?  Not quite sure why, as they’ve been on my radar a while and I’ve kinda assumed that I might like them.  Maybe that’s the reason why.

Anyhoo, I’ve listened to this album a whole lot and got to know it pretty well.  There has a whole bunch of great catchy tunes, angular guitar, thrown shapes, sing-a-long choruses, and, deep grooves.  Ultimately, there are enough hooks here to ensure the songs are in your head and you’re still whistling, humming, or singing long after it’s done.

#6 Mark Lanegan Band – Gargoyle

I know a few folks who have been fairly underwhelmed by Lanegan’s post-Blues Funeral output and, well, I guess I can understand that.  Phantom Radio’s quieter moments and 2015’s Houston: Publishing Demos had me longing for a return to the sound of Lanegan’s pre-Bubblegum work, but instead we got Gargoyle… and that’s fine.

This is hypnotic and there’s a shift in tone and pace.  Across the album’s 10 tracks, it seems that Lanegan’s either finally found redemption or forgiveness.  Maybe both.  Or maybe he’s just recognised that the scars he wears, or is responsible for, are part of what makes him who he is.

#7 Danny & The Champions of the world – Brilliant Light

One of my all-time favourite bands released one of their finest albums last year. This one is a sprawling 18-track double LP and it really does fit the format perfectly, with Side B ending with the brilliant Gotta Get Things Right In My Life, and Side C starting like a whole new song cycle with Waiting For The Wheels To Come Off.  The focus here isn’t solely on Danny Wilson’s knack for writing a tune, but on collaboration… and they also welcome a new member into the fold.

There is a limited 3LP release, with the third slice of vinyl acting as a bonus instrumental album.  I should have snapped that up, but the fool in me thought I’d be happy with just the two slices of vinyl.  Drats.

#8 Beck – Colors

Although the whole thing about Beck has always been that you should expect the unexpected, as he shifted style from one release to the other.  However, Colors is unlike anything he’s released so far.  It’s a joyous, slick pop record full of beats, melodies, and sing-a-long moments that will genuinely make you smile.

Better still, it features Dreams and Wow – both exceptional songs that have been around long enough to drill straight into that substrate.

#9 Duke Garwood – Garden of Ashes

2015’s Heavy Love was a bit of a lighter affair, but this is a deep dark album. A saunter through the remains of the pending apocalypse.  Confronting and coming to terms with the end of days. Consumerism, smart phones, the fear and loathing that’s come with the rise of the right and the effects of the likes of Brexit and Making ‘Mericu Great Again. Or maybe that’s just what I take from it.

Again, Alain Johannes and Mark Lanegan ensure that Garwood’s words aren’t lost to the rhythms and intricate mournful blues of his guitar.

#10 Deep Purple – Infinite

I’m not an expert when it comes to this band and, to be honest, it’s only been over the last couple of years that I have gotten to like some of their stuff. I’m aware that there’s a rich catalogue and a complex history that has yielded some of the greatest rock albums ever recorded.

I know that this one may not live up to those albums of the past, but you know what?  I dig it.  A whole lot.  Even if there’s an unnecessary reading of Roadhouse Blues included.  And you know what else?  The album cover is great.  So there.

And best live album goes to:

Causa Sui – Live In Copenhagen

I’m not often crazy for live releases and this may be the first time I’ve ever considered a live album to be among my favourite releases of whatever year I’m talking about, but Live In Copenhagen is really, really special.

Comprised of two shows – launch nights for Euporie Tide and Return To Sky – the whole thing sounds urgent and heavy and… well, just so bloody good.  Even the material from Euporie Tide sounds heavier and so much more likely to explode. 

Also, there’s a quite incredible version of A Love Supreme.

There are a few other albums that I only heard towards the tail end of the year that I know would have made it here if I had been more familiar with them.  So, notable mentions go to:

The National – Sleep Well Beast, Colter Wall’s self-titled album, Mastodon – Emporer of Sand, Don Antonio, Deadly Avenger – Everyday Is Kill, Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun, The Secret Sisters’ – You Don’t Own Me Anymore, Dave Catching – Shared Hallucinations…, Protomartyr – Relatives In Descent, Van Hunt – Popular.

Next time, I’m gonna pull my favourite new additions from the shelf and take some pictures… there’ll be some words about why they’re my favourite additions of 2017, but it’s really all about pictures, innit.

“Man, this looks great”: December Record Round Up

Happy New Year, folks!  Figured a post about some new additions was a suitable first post of the year.  Just so happens that one of them is one of my favourite additions of 2017, while the other is my favourite addition of 2018 so far (arrived just last week).  So, here goes.

*edit: I forgot Duran Duran’s Rio*

Nicklas Sørensen – Solo

It was my good buddy, and El Paraiso Records enthusiast, JH who recommended this one.  Had I heard it when it was released, I’m fairly certain it would have made my best of 2016 list.

I snapped this up cheap on Discogs on, eh, Christmas Eve (a wee gift to myself, y’know?) and it’s easily one of my very favourite additions to the record collection.

Timing is perfect, too. I get to know this one a whole lot better ahead of the release of Solo 2 (which I need to buy now, right?)

Ash – Live On Mars

Not really recorded on Mars, which is disappointing. In actual fact, it was recorded over 5 nights at the London Astoria 1997. As you can imagine, all the hits from 1977 are included.

Although I don’t listen to much beyond Nu-Clear Sounds, this one was too good to ignore given it was recorded in 97. All the hits are there and the band are on great form. Better still, it was £6. It’s a double LP, translucent red vinyl, and limited numbers, too.

Goon Moon – Licker’s Last Leg

I’ve been after this one a while and I had a wee Amazon voucher to spend, so I decided to ignore all the albums that I had added to my list last year (and the year before) and purchase this one. It arrived a few days ago, but it’s technically a December purchase, hence why it’s here (though I dare say it’ll appear in 2018’s Favourite New Additions round up).

The LP (double) is a really beautiful thing, so I’m glad I ‘upgraded’ from the CD. It’s ‘Moon coloured’ and, though not really representative of the moon, both slices are really quite beautiful. No download code or suchlike, which is okay given I have the CD.

Also, did I mention that this album features a cover of the Bee Gees’ Every Christian Lion Hearted Man Will Show You? No? Well… y’know, it does.

Duran Duran – Rio

I’ve always been fond of this one and saw it cheap on, you guessed it, Discogs.

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I like a few tracks a helluva lot… none more so than The Chauffeur.

And I’m really liking the tracks I knew less well.

I’m also just about done compiling my 2017 favourites lists, so you may well see two posts from me this January! Zoiks!

“Found them on That Discogs”

Two new additions waiting for me when I arrived home from work. Bonus pick-me-ups at the end of a difficult week.

I’ve been after these for a while and decided to snap them up when I saw them on Discogs for a couple of quid (including postage, I got them both for little over £6).

Cruzados – Cruzados

Tito Larriva’s outfit before Tito & Tarantula. I’ve read some interesting stuff about these guys, so I’m looking forward to dropping the needle on this one in particular.

The band also includes Tito & Tarantula’s guitarist Steven Hufsteter and Chalo Quintana, who would then go on to be a Ju Ju Hound).

Van Halen – Fair Warning

My buddy JH’s favourite Van Halen album (he wrote a great piece on it a while back) and Mike Ladano had also recommended that I make it a priority purchase (it scores a 5 over at Mike’s site). So, it might have taken a while, but that’s it in the collection now.

So, aye, more new records. Are you familiar with these? Thoughts?

“Do I really need the Deluxe version…”: The June to November Record Round Up

Been a while since I posted a Record Round Up, so figured I’d do so now.  I love new records… not just dropping the needle, but looking at the artwork, the track listing, the credits, placing the record on the turntable and browsing for the right spot on the shelf.  All that good stuff.  Anyhoo, I realised that it’s been a while since I shared some of my new additions, so here goes.  These made their way into the collection between June and now.

The Very Best – Makes A King

This was an impulse purchase from Fopp one lunchtime.  Mostly cause I liked the cover and it was £3.  Turns out it’s one of my favourite additions.  They’re a Swedish-Malawian duo who create a strange traditional Malawian dance pop thingy.  Even when I think it’s a bit too dance-y for me I’m won over by it’s infectiousness.  Really great stuff.

Danny & The Champions of the World – Brilliant Light

I know I’ve spoke about Danny & Co. before and I’d like to think that some of you have maybe checked them out.  If not, well, it’s not too late.  Brilliant Light is their newest, and possibly, best.  A sprawling double album, which might just be my album of the year.

I’ll jot down some thoughts soon(ish), but here’s a great review from my buddy Paul over at Blabber ‘n’ Smoke.

Duke Garwood – Garden of Ashes

Another new release from of my favourite artists.  Garden of Ashes is really pretty special.  If Heavy Love was scorched and sun-bleached, this one is all smoldering ash.  Again, Alain Johannes and Mark Lanegan handle the mixing duties and they do a great job bringing Garwood’s vocal to the front.

Queens of the Stone Age – Villains

Is this my favourite album of the year?  Who could possibly say.  What I can tell you, though, is that I haven’t spoken with too many folks who have been bowled over by Homme & Co’s most accessible album yet.  I opted for the Deluxe set with the 12″ prints with artwork and lyrics.

I’ve been writing some stuff about this in a notepad and I’m certain I’ll share my thoughts here at some point in the near future, however, here’s two great reviews from my pals Mike and JH.

JH – “the consistency of greatness just isn’t here like you think it should be.”

Mike has been won over.

Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression

One of my favourite albums from last year.  I had picked up the standard edition when it was released, but had asked myself a few times whether I should have went for the Deluxe set (gatefold and booklet).  That question inevitably led to another question –do I need the deluxe set?  The answer, of course, was yes.

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Plastic Fang

I’ve been on something of a JSBE kick over the last while and spotted a copy of my favourite album of theirs.  Now, I know it’s not considered to be their finest moment, but I’ve always loved it.  The CD is a really nice item and I figured the LP would be too.  And it is.  I snapped this up for a reasonable price and the 12″ comic style booklet is in great condition (as are the slices of vinyl).  Probably my favourite purchase this year.

Junior Kimbrough – All Night Long

One of the absolute best, most important, but overlooked bluesmen.  I’ve been after this one for a while and couldn’t resist when I saw this reissue for a tenner.  An all timer.

Causa Sui – Vibraciones Doradas

The new album from one of my current favourite bands.  I was pretty certain I knew what my favourite album this year was until this came along.  It’s all sorts of magnificent.  And on mint green vinyl, too.  Go get some.

I’ve yet to fully get my head around the awesomeness, but my buddy JH shared his thoughts.

Mind that guy?

Back to work today after 6 weeks. A killer. But, I figured the best way to celebrate (and work off 6 weeks worth of jelly beans and Fry’s Creams) was to stretch the legs at lunch and stop by the Record Fayre. A successful trip, too.

Terence Trent D’Arby – Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’Arby

Been interested in picking this one up for a while. Not an all-timer or anything like that, but a friend and I got talking about him a few months ago for one reason or another (The Rise Of The Zugebrian Time Lords anyone?) and so when I spotted this I thought “hey, I’m gonna get this”.

Sugar – Beaster

Now here’s an (mini) album. My favourite Sugar release and not one I’ve seen in the wild. Didn’t hesitate to pick this up… probably Bob Mould’s finest moment if you ask me (though I know many of you haven’t and won’t, but you’re here and I thought I’d take the opportunity to answer any potential “what’s Bob Mould’s best moment?” questions).

As always, I’ll report back on these at some point.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – One Hot Minute (1995)

One Hot Minute is the first and only Red Hot Chili Peppers album that featured then ex-Jane’s Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro. Coincidentally it also found the band on a darker, richer vein of form than they had been on their previous albums (the less said about those that followed the better, in my opinion).  Gone are the cheap thrills and wallah-wallah-boing-like warblings of Kiedis; instead we get lullabies about depression (My Friends) and drug addiction (Warped), Iggy Pop and stand by me type childhood shenanigans, as well as a wee ‘fuck-you’ ditty from Flea.  All that goodness is complimented by some really wonderful sonic textures (see Warped, Aeroplane and One Big Mob) and big slabs of Navarro’s metallic riffage (like on the pretty ace Coffee Shop).See, Navarro turned the band on its head. Turned them into something more than the band they were (or the pop band they would become), but it just wouldn’t work out, cause he’s a ‘let’s jam it out’ kinda guy and there was a whole drug and drink related sub-plot.  Anyhoo, it’s a shame Navarro’s stint didn’t last longer, cause they really created something special here.

There’s no denying that Blood Sugar Sex Magik will remain the highlight of their career for many and I’m not here to convince anyone that One Hot Minute is better. But I will say this: it’s better. This, my friends, is their finest moment.

Album rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

For those fans who discovered the ‘Chili Peppers following the success of Californication and By The Way, this one is bound to disappoint (if you’re looking for more of the same tired routine that is).

It’s not perfect (wee bit too long), but, as I say, it’s easily their finest moment.

Cover rating : ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Fairytale-like. Kinda packages up the Brothers Grimm influence nicely (if there is one… if not, I’ve been getting the wrong vibes off it for the last 20 years or so).

one man vs. his record collection