Wednesday, 29 December 2010

British Statue Number Twenty

King John (1167-1216)
Church Road,
Egham, Surrey
Sculpture by David Parfitt.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

The bells of Heaven

Nearly ten minutes of Pentangle at their jazziest and most tangential. You lucky people.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

The hunt is cast and ready

Pentangle were such a superb band in their time, probably the jazziest, grooviest folk group of all. When a group has Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, Danny Thompson and Terry Cox in it, it's hard to single anyone out, but Jacqui McShee, with her wiggly lips, witchy face and clear as a mountain stream voice effortlessly steals the show here, all without ever getting off her stool.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Living out a technicolor dream

In 1982, 70 year old May Booker appeared on 'Jim'll Fix It' with her favourite group, Thin Lizzy. She ROCKED.

As spotted and suggested by our old pal, Mr. D.Unmann.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Primitive Film, Sophisticated Music

Two of the things I love most in this stupid world are Trunk Records and the music of Basil Kirchin so you can imagine my excitement when Trunk Records release another album of Basil Kirchin music.

Just out is the previously unreleased music to 'Primitive London', backed with the score for the obscure but rather good 1971 Ian McShane thriller  'Freelance'.

Basil really was a musical genius, and every track on the LP thrills the ear with its odd noises, beautiful melodies and startling arrangements, so you need to go and get the LP (if there are any left) or CD from Ye Olde New Trunk Shoppe here.

Here's a little sampler of tracks from 'Primitive London' to give you a feel for what you're currently missing.

Saturday Night Out

‘Saturday Night Out’ is a remarkably frank film for 1964, although fairly restrained by Robert Hartford-Davis standards. It starts with a ship docking at London, and the crew and passengers disembarking for a night in the city. Over the course of the next ninety minutes, we follow the mixed fortunes of five sailors and a tourist as they pass the time in the capitol that was just starting to swing.

Serious minded Lee has tickets for the Royal Festival Hall, but somehow falls in love with kooky suicidal beatnik Penny (Heather Sears, also in ‘The Black Torment’). Worldly Arthur (Hartford-Davis favourite David Lodge) visits his ‘Mum’ (sexy Margaret Nolan, who lent her gilded body to the ‘Goldfinger’ title sequence) for a twenty four hour bunk up; Paddy just wants to get pissed, and succeeds, admirably; obnoxious Harry wants sex, at any cost; sensitive Jamie meets a homeless girl teetering on the edge of prostitution, and crusty old Bernard Lee finds himself embroiled in a blackmail scandal when he hooks up with French seductress Wanda.

Generally praised at the time for its uncompromising portrayal of adult relationships and the seamier side of the city, ‘Saturday Night Out’ seems fairly tame today, but stays interesting in the way it interweaves the plot lines of the six principal characters, as well as the glimpses of a very different London to the one we know today, a city still pockmarked with bomb sites and packed with old time pubs and people in flat caps.

Ultimately, it’s a solid but unspectacular effort from Hartford-Davis, but quite tastefully done considering the subject matter and the propensities of the director.

Here’s a clip featuring Inigo Jones as Harry in which, already half cut and desperate, he makes a decision that will very shortly leave him skint and beaten up.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

British Statue Number Nineteen

Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770),
Millennium Square,
Bristol, Avon.
Statue by Lawrence Holofcener.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Leave it!

It's 1978 and British Evel Knievel Eddie Kidd is at the height of his fame, and signed to Decca Records, despite not having any musical ability or stage presence whatsoever. Musically awful, sartorially unforgivable, I especially like the bits when Eddie's not singing and you can see him thinking 'why did I agree to this'?

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Flexible, Malleable, Accommodating

‘Bend Me, Shape Me’ was written by Scott English and Larry Weiss and was first released in 1966 as a track on an album by Chicago garage rockers The Outsiders. Shortly afterwards, a bizarre girl group / musique concrete hybrid version appeared on single, credited to The Models and produced like mad by Tom Wilson for MGM records.

Not a massive amount is known about The Models, but it is believed they were, well, models, dragged into the studios to record a single, which might explain the occasionally wayward vocals. Wilson, of course, would later go on to produce The Velvet Underground’s first two LP's, and it’s tempting to draw a direct line between the superbly discordant sonic experimentation here and on those seminal albums, but I won’t, I’ll just leave it hanging in the air for you.

The single was not a hit, leaving the field clear for The American Breed (in the US) and The Amen Corner (in the UK) to have big hits with it in early 1968.

The film hijacked into accompanying the track is by Bruce Conner and was originally called ‘Breakaway’. The acrobatic young star is Antonia Basilotta, who would later change her name to Toni Basil and get on everyone’s tits with the mega hit ‘Mickey’ in the early eighties. Antonia is occasionally topless / nude in this short film, so please don’t watch if you are under the age of 18 or just don’t like to watch nude people enjoying themselves to music.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

I'm sick and weary of being alone

I'm not glad that Richard & Linda Thompson had an unhappy marriage, but the melancholic, yearning songs inspired by their complex relationship are some of the most beautiful ever made.

Here's a stripped down version of 'A Heart Needs A Home' from their third album 'Hokey Pokey '. It has a slightly abrupt ending, but you take what you can get when it's not your stuff.

Two confessions to make: when I originally saw this clip, I unconsciously reached out to touch Linda's face during the second verse because she looked so vulnerable and I loved her and wanted to make it right. Secondly, this basic performance, one guitar, two voices, makes me realise once and for all that even if I lived forever, I could never make a second of music as real and moving and heart-rending as this, and all my bleeps and samples and conceptual sound sketches are just fluff in the cosmos. &, guess what? That's actually a pretty important thing to know.