Category Archives: Thoughts

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.

“a shambolic teenage riot”

Sleepyhouse was my first proper band.  We were, as one of our friends put it, “a shambolic teenage riot”.  We were barely proficient with our instruments, with three of us playing ‘seriously’ (I use that term loosely) for a matter of months, while our drummer, Adam, was a very talented guitarist.  As shambolic as we were, though, we had some good tunes and an energy, camaraderie, and swagger that you’d attribute to the best bands.  For us, though, those qualities came with being in our late teens.  We were great, though; a mess of a band, but for about 2 years – 1998 to 2000 – we were on a wave of enthusiasm that made us the best band out there.

How did it start?  Well, Kev, Alan, and myself were school pals who listened to the same music.  The odd kids in our year.  Kev and I had been making a bit of a racket for a few months much to the chagrin of our parents.  Tuneless strumming and abstract words strung together.  We even performed two songs as an interval side attraction at a school show thing as Sulk (named after the Radiohead tune and we thought it was clever cause we were teenagers, innit).  My girlfriend at the time was our drummer cause she could actually play a little bit (she could also read music… though that wasn’t something that she could teach me, cause, well, who needs to read music?) and, well, we really couldn’t play (undisputed fact) and we didn’t perform in public again.

Alan picked up guitar pretty easily and joined us a bit later.  Bringing his Slash inspired licks.  We left school and attended different colleges.  But we wrote some songs.  The Robster, who I met at college, completed the line-up and we set about polishing our songs.  The problem was that, despite saying he was, The Robster wasn’t a drummer.  We established this quickly.  His departure was memorable thanks to a crash symbol near enough scalping him.  Our next attempt at securing a drummer was simultaneously more and less successful.  A drummer more talented than each of us at our chosen instruments who helped us through a gig as the entertainment during a fashion show.  Kinda like playing the Superbowl, I guess.  But on a much smaller scale… and with fewer people… and with people playing dress up rather than American Football.  Fun times.

Anyhoo, it was a chance meeting one night with a busker and his pal Adam that changed things.  Y’see, Adam was a guitarist, but he said he played drums a bit and he was interested.  I don’t remember the exact details, but I assume we sold him on our band being pretty brilliant and complete with a songwriting team to rival that of Jagger and Richards, Bacharach and David, Leiber and Stoller, King and Goffin, or, dare I say, Holland, Dozier and Holland!  Truth be told we had none of that.  We three had hijinx and ideas a plenty, though.  So we jammed.   We got along.  We wrote songs.  Well, we jammed ideas that would eventually become songs and we all contributed.  We had a laugh and Adam fitted in.  Within a short space of time we were a gang.  I can’t quite remember when we named ourselves Sleepyhouse, but we did.  Sleepyhouse, y’see, was one of our (Alan and I) favourite Blind Melon songs.  I don’t remember there being any big discussions or objections around it.  It just seemed to fit us.

Heady times with The Hoose. At The Arena in 1998, I reckon. L to R: Kev, Jim, Adam, Alan.

Our songs were an interesting mix of ramshackle rock riffery and shuffle.  We had the usual influences for guys our age – Nirvana, GNR, Reef and a sprinkling of Blind Melon.  Lyrically, it was improvised and dealing with the kinda things teenagers dealt with – y’know, the emotional cycle of change, relationships, angst, indifference, drinking, and other more abstract stuffs.  Rehearsals were great, too; productive and with just the right amount of hijinx.  We left the studio as a group with some walk and talk and stop and chat about the night’s work.

My way of ‘writing’ was established in those early days… improvising and repeating until a line, phrase, or melody stuck.  Ranting… jamming… whatever you want to call it.  I just sang and caught words that stuck with me.  Alan had a style that was heavy influenced by Slash and Joe Perry.  He had that swagger, too… Les Paul slung low and dressed like he was straight out of a forgotten 70’s outfit.  His playing had a distinctive jagged edge… like a carpenter working on wood.  Kev’s playing was also distinctive (still is) with him pulling notes and, whether following the guitar or not, punched his way through the song’s landscape.  Adam was a guitarist first, but his drumming style was integral to the Sleepyhouse sound… the cymbol crashing and its incessant whispering adding a layer to the songs that complimented the jagged edge of the guitar and much needed treble to the punch and distortion of the bass.  It was like the sound of water running while the toms rumbled and all that jazz.  Man, it was busy.  In a Bonham way, I guess.  It was a marriage of styles that worked.

We played pretty much every other weekend.  Often at Glasgow’s The Arena (seriously, bands that play a venue as often and as regularly as we played there, would be considered a resident band), Strawberry Fields, the odd appearance at Fury Murry’s or Strathclyde Union, not to mention our very own SleepyFest at The 13th Note and a memorable night at the Cathouse.

Y’see, Sleepyhouse was at its best when we were a gang and the gigs could be the best thing ever, but also the worst.  But, y’know, no matter how bad we were on stage, we enjoyed being there and playing the songs.  We had set staples and threw in the odd cover.  We had a bunch of folks who would come out to see us play.  It was like one massive party (and there often was one later at Alan’s gaff after gigs).  We recorded a couple of our tunes (Bob Dylan’s Grandmother, Spend The Night and The Bridge) and we were riding a wave.  Then things changed.  The dynamic between us changed.  Alan had become a focal point and his view of what Sleepyhouse was and should be was absolute…

Sleepyhouse Mk III rocking yon Strawberry Fields (L to R: Alan, Jim, Danny, Kev)

Like any band, there were line-up changes.  Not the likes of Deep Purple or anything, but a few.  Kev’s mate Pete joined in early 2000 or so and though he was a smashin’ guy and a proper good guitar player to boot (a considerable upgrade on my rhythm guitar chops), it didn’t really bring balance to the Force.  Adam left, cause, well, cause he had another band and other commitments.  Truth be told, that was really the shift from Sleepyhouse to something new.  We just didn’t know it at the time.

Alan’s pal Danny joined and things were actually moving along okay.  Pete left, but by this time our sound was established and we were proficient players.  We recorded a couple of songs (Jack D., Heavy-Eyed and Tee Ah Millahtoona) and considered it to be an EP.  We did nothing with it, right enough*.  Stuart joined soon after, cause despite hearing loads of guitar things, I just wasn’t a guitar player and Pete’s stint really highlighted that the extra guitar could lift the band and fill out the sound.  Stuart’s arrival was a difficult one for Alan, I think.  Two of them being lead players, but our relationship, certainly musically, with Stuart was better as his influences were more in line with those of Kev and I.  I’m not sure they really hit it off and, quite honestly, I don’t know that they ever really spoke, or got a chance to, cause their time in a band together was actually incredible short.

As much as we all liked Danny, I don’t think he ever felt part of things when Alan moved on.  By that time Sleepyhouse was done and we were guys who played music together without engaging with each other much away from it.  We transitioned from Sleepyhouse to something different sometime around 2001 and I dare say there was a bit of a power struggle in there.  In the end I walked away.  The others jammed with Danny’s brother, but for one reason or another that didn’t work out.

Sleepyhouse Mk IV (L to R: Alan, Danny, Jim, Kev, Stuart). This one is from The Cathouse. Note the jumper…

I haven’t really given much thought to Sleepyhouse for a long time.  I can’t even really remember the last time I mentioned or discussed it.  So why am I thinking about my first real band and those early days of a rich musical journey?  Well, Adam dropped me and Kev a line in December asking about an old video and being keen to see it.  I hadn’t thought about the Sleepy Tape for a long, long time.  This is a tape made up of hours of footage captured by my Sharp camcorder with the help of my brother (mostly) and a tripod.  Among the rehearsal and gig footage are snippets of chat and hijinx.  I haven’t seen that video cassette since the last days of the band.  It transpires that Kev had it.  Now it’s in Adam’s possession and he’s digitising that thing.

I’ve been engaged in a series of messages with Adam and Kev over the last few weeks and it’s been good to reminisce about it all.  Adam relayed a quote from a clip of his pal:

“Sleepyhouse is an absolutely fucking silly band that shouldn’t work… at all.  And yet I find myself having more fun at their gigs than Dinosaur Jr or any of the other truly great bands I’ve seen”.

I think that summed us up.  We were the best worst band on the scene.  Which made us the best band ever.  Revisiting the songs, I don’t know that they’d win folks over now, but then… then was different.  It probably wasn’t ever really about the songs.  As much as we were teenagers with a bit of arrogance and whatever, we were a welcoming bunch.  If you came to see us you were one of us.  Heck, we even invited other bands on stage to sing or whatever… we gigged with pals or bands we formed friendships with through gigs.  Jings, our drummer, Adam, was a stranger who became family overnight.  I think that sums up Sleepyhouse.  It wasn’t just a house, but a home.

Anyhoo, I’m glad we thought to document the journey of Sleepyhouse.  Or at least the early years before it started to fall apart.  I can honestly say that as messy as it was at times, it was pretty great.  Most importantly, I’m glad that we’re planning on meeting up to give the Sleepy Tape a watch.  I haven’t seen either of those guys in a while and, well, I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them.

*the Voodoo Dolls & Diamond Rings EP did eventually see the light of day.  The timeline is all a bit skewed, but this was recorded in 2001, as the band transitioned from Sleepyhouse to Glitterball Vegas (we think).

“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?

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).

“Your Foot might slip and your soul get lost”: Hugh E. Porter & His Gospel Singers – Spirituals (1967)

When I’m out buying vinyl from one of my favourite secondhand haunts, my wife often looks at the stuff that no-one else looks at.

She often spots a cracker of a cover, some audacious title and she’ll say “I’m gonna get this”. Never more than £1.  This has been a project of hers for a while, though she hasn’t had much opportunity to have a dig around the record crates in a while (so does it count as an active project?).  Anyhoo, I guess it made record shopping with this guy a bit more bareable.

Kidding Around With Carol Channing and the Kids, Ray Bolger reading The Land of Oz, Bing Crosby’s Greatest Hits and David Kossoff’s Bible Stories being just a few of those titles in the collection that, admittedly, haven’t been listened to from start to finish.

One of the real gems, though, is Spirituals: The Heavenly Sound of Negro Spirituals by Hugh E. Porter and His Gospel Singers.  It’s the type of record that you just wouldn’t imagine being made now. Heck, its sub-title wouldn’t grace a record cover these days!I was incredibly intrigued when my wife picked it up and I’ve enjoyed it an awfy lot each time I’ve given it a spin.  That said, I’ve only pulled it from the shelf once a year over the 4 years or so.  So, 4 spins since it’s been in the collection, then!  However, each listen has been as intriguing as the last.

I’m actually fairly fond of spirituals and gospel music.  I guess cause I’m a fan of country and blues.  As a result, I’m fairly familiar with a whole bunch of the songs here, though I’ve never heard them as raw or vibrant as this.  No, sir.  It’s just Hugh, his organ, and his singers (who seem to have some tambourines and the likes. Obviously).It’s not my intention to convince anyone that this is a stellar set, but it is.  It’s full of passion and clearly not an exercise in nailing a best take.  There’s a lack of control and a rawness to it all.  Capturing the emotion and energy of a musical sermon, I guess. So there’s a wonderful ramshackle feel as a result.

Of the songs that I haven’t heard a million times, Ezekiel Saw the Wheel and The Lord Saved Me are incredible.

Hitting up Google I can’t find too much out there on Hugh E. Porter (if anything at all), but my impression is that he’s not a singer.  Certainly not a popular recording artist – even in 1967.  However, I may be wrong (if you know more about this guy, please feel free to let me know in the comments – I’m genuinely interested).

Regardless, this one really is a brilliant listen and an incredible find.  I’m glad I’ve discovered it… 

My wife deserves the credit, though.

Some Like It Hot

My fondness of Duran Duran comes from my fondness of Guns N’ Roses.  Not a link that some would make, so I’ll risk boring those who can make that link by, well, detailing the link.  No need for any of that 6 degrees of separation shenanigans, either.  Here goes… GN’R’s Duff McKagen and Matt Sorum were in the Neurotic Outsiders with Duran Duran’s Johnny Taylor.

Learning about Duran Duran in the early 2000s (as you do), I quickly found out that Johnny Taylor was a) interesting and b) cool.  So too was Andy Taylor.  They were right into their rock and roll.  The Power Station, however, wasn’t really on my radar.  I knew Harvest For The World, but that was about it.  That just really wasn’t my jam.  Anyhoo, I’d seen the album often enough for £2.99 in the Record Fayre over the years and I had been tempted to pick it up, but each time I picked it up I heard the chorus of Harvest For The World.  So the LP went back in the rack.

The Power Station album cropped up during some online social media chat about Andy Taylor’s Thunder and I set off on a journey through the dimly lit alleyways of YouTube.  I decided that Some Like It Hot was one of the greatest songs I had ever heard.  It’s a truly outstanding piece of music.

Typically, the Record Fayre – where I have seen a copy during every single visit over the last several years – no longer had it.  To recap episode #144:

“… ah, the Duran boy? Went a while ago” said the chap as he stood up, “strange, cause I had about 10 of them downstairs… couldn’t give them away for so long”.  By this point he’s flicking through the 80s and 90s LPs.  I told him about how I’ve recently discovered its awesomeness.  He nodded, “I think a few others discovered that too”.  He did look through the Palmer records just to see if a copy was in there.  But there wasn’t.

So, naturally, I cursed the skies and whoever was out buying up 80’s Duran Duran related pop-rock albums.  How very dare they ruin my day life like that!

Fortunately, one of the friends involved in the chat a few months ago happened to have a copy.  He asked me a few weeks ago while we were in the studio working on some musical stuffs if I ever picked it up.  “No”, says I (relaying the tale of woe from episode #144).  “Well, here you go”.

The first side is perfect in every single way.  One of the finest sides of music I have ever heard.

I genuinely love this album and I’ll write more about it when I get the chance.

 

Poco – Head Over Heels (1975)

Here’s a strange one… Poco were a band I only heard of thanks to Blabber ‘n’ Smoke’s Paul Kerr.  He’d mentioned them once or twice and said he liberated a copy of Head Over Heels during a visit to a charity shop.  It was mine if I wanted it.  Of course, being into records, Buffalo Springfield and being partial to a bit of ‘country rock’ in general, I said I would give it a good home (there were a few other records thrown my way that evening – including Santana’s Zebop!)

Now, I’ve listened to this once or twice since then and I thought it was, at times, very lovely and all, but nothing jumped out at me.  It kinda reminded me of yon Eagles lot and, to quote The Dude, I hate the fucking Eagles, man (hate is maybe too strong, but they bore me to tears. I need more than well crafted empty songs).  However, while it reminded me of their country rock contemporaries, I was fairly taken by their vocal shenanigans.

So, I decided to file this under ‘get to know better’ and I finally got around to making time in my schedule to sit down with it… and yeah, it’s rocking my boat.  Gently.  Ever so gently.  Those vocal shenanigans really do lift some already impressive songwriting and, unlike yon Eagles lot, the tracks are filled to overflowing with some heart and (gushing) sentiment.  The opening salvo alone is worth the admission price.  Keep On Tryin’ is an outstanding opener complete with some outrageous harmonies (so outrageous it sounds like the Bee Gees fronting, eh, the Eagles) and Lovin’ Arms is equally gorgeous.

There are a couple of stand-out tracks spread across the album’s short run-time, but just now the tracks that grab me (other than the two I already mentioned) are Let Me Turn Back To YouGeorgia, Bind My Ties and Dallas (which I learned is a Steely Dan number).

I should probably acknowledge that the first three songs or so on each side keep me engaged. Not that I drift away, cause the album benefits from that short run-time, as it means it never really feels like spending time with it is much of a chore.

And y’know, that guy Schmit (wrote that opening number) later had a stint in the (fucking) Eagles.  How do you fancy them apples!?

Album rating: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 

Bottom line, I’m not blown away or left thinking this is peerless, or even a high point in country rock shenanigans, but if this is one of their ‘lesser efforts’, I’m looking forward to discovering one of their earlier LPs with Richie Furay.

Cover rating: ⭐️⭐️

A bit of a strange one, this.  I dare say it’s at odds with the content and finds Poco entering the 80s way before some of their peers.  Some pastel colours and it’s a bit hazy (the dude with the long hair and light denim shirt and jeans is just incredible) despite the black background.