Category Archives: Record Collection

“I worn my body for so long”: T-Model Ford & GravelRoad – Taledragger (2011)

Wanna talk blues? Wanna talk blues that isn’t cheesy 12 bar stuff with big blues licks and generic blues scale solos? Wanna talk bluesmen with hats with a layer of dirt and dust? Worn guitars and too old dirty strings? Wanna talk genuine life experience? Crazy shit and tall tales? Heartbreak, poison, and hardship? Wanna talk danger and staying in Mississipi way too long? Wanna talk about being down so long that it looks like up? Well, if you have, you’ve come to the right place, cause it rarely gets better (or worse) than T-Model Ford.

It was an old pal of mine that introduced me to the music of T-Model Ford back in 2006 or 2007.  He introduced me to a few of the electric blues artists that were signed to Fat Possum, actually. What they gave us were real people with real troubles who were never likely to walk away from their troubled lives, or stop playing their songs on porches or juke joints.

I guess it was similar to the discovery of Skip James and Son House, etc. in the 60’s, but Fat Possum were bringing the Mississippi blues to a new audience.  The label would discover, sign and record bluesmen with rich character and history; guys who just weren’t designed for the mainstream, I guess.  As well as T-Model Ford, we got R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Asie Payton, Johnny Farmer and Charles Caldwell.  Each of them with stories to tell.

Ford’s story, though, is quite a striking one; a real tale of woe.  As well as some strife, there’s violence and murder (apparently spending time on a chain gang for killing a man in a bar-room altercation).  As a kid, he was beaten so badly with a piece of firewood by his father that he lost a testicle.  He’s been beaten unconscious, stabbed, shot, and trapped under a fallen tree.  And the heartache?  Well, his first wife ran away with his father and he watched another die after drinking poison, while the only woman he ever truly loved poisoned him at breakfast.  Still, he loved the womans and they appeared to love him.  In addition, Fat Possum gave him a platform to tell his tales to the listening world.

… But the woe didn’t stop there.  As a recording musician for Fat Possum records he would be robbed, the victim of vandalism, and learn that the elderly woman teaching him to read and write has been the victim of a heinous crime that has resulted in her death. But still, he didn’t want to move despite the efforts of his label to get him out of town.  In fact, Fat Possum’s Matthew Johnson considered him to be a “happy-go-lucky psychopath”; whether he was or not depends on how you interpret his songs and performances.

Anyhoo, Taledragger is T-Model Ford’s last album and, while not as vibrant and raw as the releases on Fat Possum, it’s still a brilliant document of the man’s particular blend of the electrified Mississippi blues.  He’s backed by GravelRoad, who initially hooked up with him for a run of dates in 2008 and they provide suitable, eh, gravely backing for old T-Model.  His unique playing style and wicked slurred growl are intact and he sounds great for a guy rumoured to be about 90 at the time (and he didn’t start playing until he was near enough 60 when his 5th wife said cheerio, apparently).

His blues is as repetative and hypnotic as his old label mate Kimbrough’s and opener Same Old Train really sets the tone.  There’s some Hammond on here that really adds a wee something special and I’m fairly certain this song is a reworking of Mystery Train with T-Model singing what words he can remember with some of his own.  I should add that part of the wonder of T-Model is deciphering what he’s singing.  There’s no lyrics with the LP and his slurred growl doesn’t make it easy.  I am confident, however, that he mentions train and a “long legged woma” (who makes more than one appearance).

The early highlights are Comin’ Back Home and Someone’s Knocking On My Door, with the former churning like the Mississippi and at times it reminds me of Morphine.  The sax flourishes and Ford’s howl when he says “bae-ee” (babe / baby, I assume) are awesome and Brian Olive’s sax outro is particularly special (make it worth the admission price alone).  Someone Knocking… on the other hand is lit up with Stefan Zillioux’s sizzling guitar.  Seriously, it’s a BBQ pit death waltz… Ford chanting about death and the gentle rapping on his chamber door.

Side 2 is pretty special, with How Many More Years transcending electric blues.  It’s dark, hypnotic, and the drum often does this wee quick step thing that leaves you feeling a bit woozy.  There’s some heavy reverb on T-Model Ford’s vocal and Zillioux’s wah-wah’d guitar finds us veering off into a psychedelic dirge.  It’s followed by 7 rolling and tumbling minutes of Big Legged Woman.  Again, the lead playing of Zillioux lights this up, with his slide playing like a switchblade.  I guarantee you if this was recorded in the 60’s Led Zeppelin would have released a similar tune within months without having ever heard this.

Ford is clearly a fan of reverb and although it’s not uncommon for bluesment to delve into some tremelo or reverb ocassionally, one of the most interesting things here is the use of the reverb on the vocal and the occasional veer into psychedelic vibes.  Given how difficult it is to grab the words that Ford throws out, it’s very effective.  Those psychedelic dirge vibes come back with I Worn My Body For So Long (what a title, eh?).  This time it’s driven by some kick ass bass and the lead noodlings appear to be from an acoustic or dobro (or resonator of some sort).

Lyrically, when you can make out what he’s saying, it sounds at times like he’s making things up as he goes along, singing what he remembers of existing songs, while throwng in his own experiences (Same Old Train, Big Legged Woman, Red Dress and Little Red Rooster).  There’s a whole lot about mortality on here (natural given his age).  Of suffering and journeying.  Trains, betrayal, and a big legged woman.  Y’know, the typical blues themes, I guess.

And while this is T-Model Ford’s boogie board, the band are damn good.  From what I gather, they are rooted in the blues, while having a hard rocking edge… and they do provide a helluva backing to T-Model Ford’s unique playing.  Lots of fuzz, too.  You gotta love fuzz.  In fact, if you like R.L. Burnside’s elctrified stuff, it’s safe to say that this will be right up your street.


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.

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.

“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!

“If there’s any doubt there is no doubt”: Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth (2016)

Hard to believe it’s been 3 years since Sturgill Simpson released Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.  His second album found him dragging outlaw country right into these troubled modern times (and drawing comparisons to Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard and the likes).  It was a far better album than the hype would suggest (yeah, I know, it was a highly acclaimed album, but it was awesome) and it wasn’t just witty, funny and dark, it was deep and philosophical.  It included all sorts of good vibes, an outstanding cover choice and reptile aliens made of light.  That, my friends, is what I want from my country music.

It was inevitable that Sturgill would find himself in the crosshairs of a major label and it was pretty huge when it was announced that he’d signed with Atlantic Records.  Now he’d get that Grammy, we thought.  Now he’s gonna make something that’ll blow our minds.  And, well, he did.  A Sailor’s Guide to Earth is quite a shift.  He left his first two records behind and drew from his experiences in the Navy, a letter that his grandfather wrote to his grandmother, and wrote his own letter to his wife and newborn son.  As a result, it’s his most personal album to date.  As you can imagine, there are strings.  There are also horns.  A lot of horns.  The whole thing is just a funky piece of sentimental country music.  The influences are wide… I hear Glen Campbell, Lowell George and (Aloha from Hawaii) Elvis.

Unfortunately, my opinion of it shifted over the last 12 months.  The punch in the gut I got when I hear the opening lines of Welcome to Earth (Pollywog) is still there despite my tiring of the horns and the fact there’s no answer to why he now knows the reason why his grandfather always said God’s a fisherman.  My love for that track (despite the horns) is down to timing – given that I was fairly new to the parenthood game myself.  “Hello, my son welcome to Earth.  You may not be my last but you’ll always be my first.  Wish I’d done this ten years ago”.  I can relate to it, y’know?

Anyhoo, as you’ll have guessed, the mood is very different to that of Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and the Dap-Kings ensure that it’s a bit more, eh, brash and, perhaps a bit too loud.  Point taken, Sturgill.  There’s joy and then there’s shouting from the rooftops with a brass band when you don’t really need them.

It’ll come as no surprise, then, that I consider the best moments to be the quieter tracks like Breakers Roar, his take of Nirvana’s In Bloom and Oh Sarah.  Two of which appear on Side A.  Also, as good as In Bloom is (it could be the best thing here?), it does throw the song cycle a bit.

There’s some of that wit and humour in there, though.  There are also things that I can relate to and things that will speak to an audience that may not normally buy into this whole thing (lines like “maybe get high, play a little GoldenEye on that old ‘64” from Sea Stories) as well as the token protest song (Call To Arms), but perhaps the references to the Navy and sea living has me feeling a bit alienated.  That and the horns.  A lot of horns.

So, aye, while my initial impressions were positive, I’ve found that it doesn’t deliver much else on repeated listens and, well, it’s not one I’ll revisit all that often, I’m afraid.  It’s not a bad album – the songs are well crafted and it’s clear that he and his co-conspirators have put a lot of care into making it – it’s just not all that engaging after a while.  I appreciate the sonic expansiveness of this new Sturgill Simpson Revue, I really do.  But there’s just nothing that holds my attention and makes me think the way Metamodern Sounds in Country Music does.

And yeah, he did get that Grammy.  If only the weight of Atlantic Records was behind Metamodern Sounds in Country Music.

I hope he comes back to shore for his next release.

** This is the standard vinyl edition.  There’s a ‘limited edition’ version on blue vinyl, which comes in the same gatefold sleeve.  As well as the printed inner sleeve, it includes a poster.

“I’m the burning bush, I’m the burning fire, I’m the bleeding volcano” – The Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue (1980)

emotional cover2This was the first Rolling Stones album I bought on vinyl.  Not one that folks hold in high regard, but I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for it. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I just can’t be bothered with it at all.  See, the thing with Emotional Rescue is that it sounds a bit lazy at times. Other times it lacks focus (flirts between R&B Stones and disco Stones) and doesn’t really seem all that fresh given there’s probably not a melody that you haven’t heard on another Stones record.  If, however, they just decided to go make a straight-up rock disco album they would have had another Some Girls on their hands. Anyhoo, I can’t help but reach for this one on a weekday evening when the last thing I want to do is rock the party. Maybe that’s a damning statement, but it’s actually not meant to be.

It’s an odd record.  Sounding much like an odds and ends release (interestingly the follow-up, Tattoo You, features a bunch of songs that they left off this one which really would have lifted this a fair bit).  I guess the lacklustre feel is expected due to relationship shenanigans.  Richards was recovering from addiction and battling with Mick for some sort of control over the Stones.  Meanwhile, Mick was seguing into cosmopolitan Mick and Bill Wyman was on the edge of quitting (he’s notably absent on a couple of tracks here).  However, despite all that, the emotional rescue is more financial than ’emotional’ – mail-order type on Send It To Me, Summer Romance (“I need money so bad”), and the title track (“you can’t get out, you’re just a poor girl in a rich man’s house”).  I’ll be honest, sometimes it plays like a Jagger solo record with the band often sounding like they lacked inspiration (well, aside from the distinctly Rolling Stones sounding shambolic-blues of Down In The Hole and Keith’s All About You).  Which is a tad disappointing.  If they’d dealt with things head on they may just have created a classic.

emotional rescue

Dance gets things off to a promising start.  A nice bit of rhythm happening and a great vocal from Mick and backing from Keith.  Summer Romance and Send It To Me don’t really do too much, though the latter does provide some wry smiles thanks to the splendiferous work of the lyric and pronunciation departments.  Let Me Go is the kind of loose and bluesy hit we’ve come to expect from the Stones and, on any given day, it’s my favourite on side 1.  My favourite lyric here however belongs to the mariachi flavoured ballad, Indian Girl.  Seriously wonderful stuff thrown together in the song and delivered in Mick’s finest country drawl.  Then he hits us with this in a non-descript exotic monologue:

“Mister Gringo, my father he ain’t no Ché Guevara.
He’s fighting the war in the streets of Masaya
Little Indian girl where is your father?
Little Indian girl where is your momma?
They’re fighting for Mr. Castro in the streets of Angola”.

Where The Boys Go is a rotten attempt at punk.  Like they spent an evening listening to the Sex Pistols and thought “oh aye”.  There’s a horrible female backing, too.  Seriously not my cup of coffee.  But while side 2 got off to the worst of starts, along comes Down In The Hole, which is the album’s highlight.  Some nice ramshackle guitar and harmonica sparring on here as Mick asks “will all your money buy you forgiveness? Keep you from sickness or keep you from cold? Will all your money keep you from madness? Keep you from sadness when you’re down in the hole?” before deciding that “none of your money will buy you forgiveness”.  It also signals a significant upturn in the album’s quality, actually.  Like DanceEmotional Rescue is great even if it’s nowhere near the disco awesomeness of Some Girl’s Miss You.  Again, like Dance, the grooves are loose and infectious, and, as well as Mick’s falsetto lead, there’s some of that Bobby Keys sax woven in there, too.  She’s So Cold is a lazy Stones cut, but it’s not dreadful (there’s a familiar Mick vocal and he sounds like he’s having a bit of a good time even if the band are going through the motions), Let Me Go is loose, but driving, and Keith’s loose bittersweet ballad, All About You a very suitable closer – a very public display of where the Stones were at that point.  Or, more specifically where the Jagger and Richards relationship was (“if the show must go on, Let it go on without you”).

But anyway, as I say, aside from the closing number, there’s not much in the way of real emotion and the whole thing.  There’s Jagger often having a ball, but the band sound like they’re less than enthusiastic about things.  It’s strange that only two years earlier they released a similarly disco influenced album, but while Some Girls had a confident strut, Emotional Rescue lacks the wit, stubbornness and swagger.  But I like it.  Or do I?  Listening to it today with the view of putting my thoughts on it down on this internets, I’m enjoying it a bit more than I did last week.  I mean, there are enough good tacks even if there are no timeless Stones numbers here.

Y’know, I’m resigned to the fact that I’ll always have that relationship with this one.  I’m still trying to find excuses for it’s lacklusteredness.  It’s better than Dirty Work and Undercover, but only just.  And I’m okay with that.  I really am.

2016-02-27 19.52.16My copy of this is in pretty good nick. Few surface marks, but certainly nothing sinister.  The sleeve itself has some shelf wear, but overall a fine copy.

I should also add that the album gets bonus points for a front cover that reminds me of Predator.

“Parcels for you, Pal”

What a week. In fact, scrap that, we’re talking two weeks here. Two weeks of feeling a tad off the map. Sinusitis that’s meant that everything I’ve listened to through headphones has had a slightly out of place buzz. I’ve coughed and spluttered myself awake at night. Stared at creeping shadows and counted sheep. The man-flu / sinusitus / viral infection has been a formidable foe.  The Conan Doyle to my Houdini. The Magneto to my Xavier.  Or vice versa.  Or something like that.

But, a couple of parcels arrived for me yesterday from a couple of real swell chaps.  Honestly, they really brightened up my week.


Knowing how much I love Stone Temple Pilots and Scott Weiland, Mr Hubner said he had a promo copy of 12 Bar Blues that he’d like to send on to me.  The promo is marvelous and includes an alternative intro to Barbarella and the song Lazy Divey.  As you can see, he also threw in a couple of extras.  Now, those of you who drop by regularly will know that it’s not often CDs find themselves in the stereo these days, but I’m really looking forward to getting to know those Left Lane Cruiser albums.  I’ve been interested in getting something of theirs for a while, but just haven’t gotten around to it.  A cursory listen, but the one with Reverend James Leg is particularly brilliant – some really great fried blues versions of blues and rock classics from the likes of Junior Kimbrough, Jimi Hendrix, Robert Johnson, Taj Mahal, and even my favourite Led Zeppelin track.  Just what the doctor ordered!

Anyhoo, the biggy there is 12 Bar Blues; I’m really pleased (understatement) to have a physical copy of this in the collection.  Thanks, JH.


The other parcel was from Mr 1537.  Despite knocking on Death’s door, he said he had a few things he was sending my way.  One that he knew I was after, one he thought I’d dig, and the other, most importantly, to further my METAL-ducation.

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly has been on my mind the last week or so (due to yon The Hateful Eight) and I was looking at a copy on Discogs just the other day.  Already been on fairly heavy rotation – a play yesterday and once today!

The others are gems, too.  A cursory listen tells me that Gallon Drunk album is gonna be a favourite, while Piece Of Mind becomes my first slice of Iron Maiden vinyl!  A band that I’ve explored at various times over the years, but I’ve never gotten round to listening to that one.  I reckon his nation deserves a win in the rugby for that.

He also threw in a wee extra …

So, big thanks to Mr Hubner and Mr 1537.

“Staring at the stars wondering what it’d be like to get to go that far”: Burning Tree – Burning Tree (1990)

burning tree

I picked this one up recently cause it was £4.99 on Discogs and I’ve been looking to add this long forgotten album to my record collection.  It’s strange when you listen to albums like this.  Y’know, the type that are largely ignored and become forgotten until, in 2121, the Indiana Jones of record digging uncovers it in some dusty storage archive.  Wiping the dust from the sleeve they proclaim they are startled by the discovery.  “The Holy Grail! After all these years …”  Or something like that.

Burning Tree’s one and only album came just before the ‘grunge’ boom.  Legend has it that there was enough of a buzz about the band to land them a deal with Epic and a support slot for The Black Crowes.  So, they were, at some point at least, highly thought of.  The album itself is a wonderfully psychedelic coloured slice of rock n’ roll.  Complete with loose grooves, snaking guitar, and swamp stomp.

Opener, Burning Tree, is brilliant. Seriously good.  So good that I’m happy to waive the penalty points that I dish out for self-titled songs.  Anyhoo, it has a real Hendrix Experience vibe going on.  Even the snaps of lead – with just the right about of buzz – and the solo.  Nice, restrained, snazzy, but not too showy.  Wigs, Blues And High Heeled Shoes is worth sticking with if it doesn’t light up immediately.  Ford’s subtle guitar and the breakdown around the 1:35 mark is particularly smashin’.  In fact, there’s a real ‘Washington State’ buzz there – like Nirvana, Mudhoney, and early Screaming Trees especially.  The bass roaming and the guitar snapping.

Fly On that’s the real highlight of the album, in my opinion.  A swampy stoner swagger.  Some psychedelic guitar flourishes and a wonderful vocal from Marc Ford.  There’s also some incredible harmonies between the three of ’em, too.  Fly On is a great example.  All Alice In Chains like.  I should actually add that the vocal responsibilities, like the songwriting, is shared by all three of the chaps here.  All do stellar jobs, though Ford’s vocals appeal more to these ears.  Baker’s Song and Playing in the Wind complete side 1 brilliantly.  Particularly the latter, with is flowing psychedelic grooves about dreams, man.

Side 2 lacks the immediate ‘yowsa!’ factor that kicked off side 1.  In fact, there’s not a song as great as either Burning Tree or Fly On, but it’s no less stellar.  Actually, that being said, Masquerade, Last Laugh and Mistreated Lover are probably pretty close.  The latter having something of Hendrix’s version of All Along the Watchtower about it, while Masquerade is the side opener; coming across all 70s psychedelic rock n’ rolla before the likes of Kula Shaker came along and briefly made that whole psychedelia revisionist thing happen with Hush and their version on Hey Dude. Again, the playing from all is exceptional, but Ford knows when to play and when not to – simple rhythms lit up with some really intricate lead playing.  Man, that guy can play.  There’s loads of nice wah laden solos, hanging notes, and crunching staccato flicks here and there.  Last Laugh on the other hand is all buzzing chainsaw swinging from a rafter and a nice big buzzing lead.

The other tracks on side 2 are Crush – a ‘being in a band’ ballad – and Turtle.  Both have some really brilliant melodies and Turtle in particular is a really exceptional take on 60’s rock n’ roll.  Also happens to round things off really well too.

So yeah, there you have it. Burning Tree’s sole LP.  A masterpiece?  I’d argue that it is.  There’s definitely the shadow of Hendrix, Cream, and some Stevie Ray Vaughan (which I only really noticed after getting into Stevie Ray Vaughan pretty heavily the last year!).  Of course, Ford would quit the band to join The Black Crowes.  That move made The Black Crowes great, though it signalled the end for Burning Tree.  Bah.

burning tree backThe LP comes with a plain white inner.  No lyrics, no detailed credits, and, most importantly, no glamorous band shots.  My copy is near mint.  Really doesn’t look as though it had been played!  I also noticed that the track order is different from the 2010 CD reissue.  Aside from the order, there’s two less tracks (Same Old Story and Baby Blue are missing).  Personally, I prefer the LP.

Well, of course I do.

“Not before Christmas!”: The December Record Round-Up

It’s been quite a year. The last few months have just whizzed past … a blur, you could say.  Brilliant, though.  Truly brilliant.  I still haven’t done too much of the crate digging shenanigans, but browsing eBay and Discogs at lunchtimes and in the wee small hours has made up for it.  I did also stretch the legs a few times, resulting in a brief lunchtime flick through the racks of Fopp. And I kinda broke the ‘not before Christmas’ rule by buying a couple of records.  But, I’m fairly certain that breaking the rule was a necessity.

Here’s why …
No Bells On Sunday / Yep
Mark Lanegan Band – No Bells On sunday (2014)

eBay – £12.02 (inc. postage)

This EP has been on my list a while. Ever since I missed the opportunity to get my hands on a copy via the Merge and Vagrant websites. I had to make do with a digital copy and kept an eye on Discogs and eBay for a reasonably priced copy appearing. Never did, though.  Until now.  I like Phantom Radio loads, but this is a great companion piece.  The first side is brilliant, and Sad Lover is one of my favourite recent Lanegan Band tunes – a mash of early Trees and Laneganonica.  Smokestack Magic is right awesome, too.

I Am What I Am: Celebrating 15 Years of Yep Roc (2012)

Fopp – £5

This really is a tremendous compilation. There’s some great folks on here and a bunch of tracks I already know really well.  The line-up includes Robyn Robyn Hitchcock, Nick Lowe, Chuck Prophet and Tift Merrit, as well as Fountains of Wayne, Minus 5, Dave Alvin, John Doe & The Sadies.  Also, I know some of my friends here will appreciate the addition of Sloan (Who Taught You To Live Like That?).  Anyhoo, as well as being a nice double LP, it comes with a download code for the album as well as 20 bonus cuts!  Bargain!

American Music Club – Mercury (1993)

Discogs – £11.49 (inc. postage)

One of my absolute favourites this one.  I’d been looking at the recent plain reissue, but spotted this on Discogs and I swiftly clicked all the buttons required to make the purchase.  Honestly delighted with this, too.  It sounds wonderful, a nice glossy inner sleeve and both the record and cover are in excellent condition.

So, that’s it.  The last ‘Record Round-Up’ of the year.  I’ll be having a wee think about my year end list shenanigans.  I’ve previously done two lists – one comprising of my top albums of the year and the other my favourite albums that I’ve added to the collection, but I’m gonna change it up this year and just combine those two lists.

In the meantime, Happy Holidays!  Hope you all have a ball wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.  See you in the New Year!

“That’s the best record you’ve brought into this house”: The November Record Round-Up

November turned out to be something of a swift month (much like this month!). Time has just gotten away and loads of stuff appears to have crept up.  No jaunts to record stores to report, either.  I did, however, use the internets to add two records to the collection.

Walking Papers

Walking Papers – Walking Papers (Sunyata, 2012; Loud & Proud, 2013)
£10.30 (incl. postage) from Amazon Marketplace

Snapped this up from the Amazon Marketplace. It’s been on my radar a while, but it was always a wee bitty expensive (£30 or so). Given that I have the original CD I wasn’t mad keen to spend that; however, one of the sellers had it for little over £9, so I decided to nab it.

Buena Vista Social Club

Buena Vista Social Club – Buena Vista Social Club (World Circuit, 1997)
£17.00 (incl. postage) from Discogs

This one was a Discogs purchase … not the super expensive original, but the recent repress. An album that’s been played a helluva lot in our house over the years and, given the price of originals, we’ve had our fingers crossed for a reissue. Which World Circuit finally gave us.

Spotted this on Discogs for £14.00 new and thought “hurrah!”. No brainer. My wife’s favourite record.