Tagged: Music

The Last Train to Clarksville has left the station: RIP Peter Tork

The Monkees - May 1967

The Monkees – May 1967

So many celebrity deaths in recent years, but this one has really hit me on a very personal level. On the surface, the Monkees might have been a manufactured band with a daft TV show, but their music had a very profound impact on me as a child.

When my sister and I were little, we were given our dad’s old record player when he got a new one. It was one of those old-fashioned boxy turntables with a built-in speaker, and one of the very first records we had to play on it was a Monkees greatest hits album.

We must have driven our parents mad with how much we played it – it ended up much loved and completely scratched to death (we weren’t very good at looking after our vinyl at such young ages!).

Indeed, listening to ‘A Little Bit Me A Little Bit You’ on YouTube this afternoon, my brain still anticipated the point in the song where our record always used to skip. The fact that my subconscious does that more than thirty years later says a lot about the impact that record had on me!

With that battered old slice of vinyl, Mickey, Mike, Peter and Davey instilled in this music mad little girl a love of pure melody, harmony and perfect pop that remains to this day, and for that I am profoundly grateful.

Peter Tork, you will be missed.

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Ever Fallen in Love?: Pete Shelley (1955 – 2018)

Goddammit, I hate writing these things. The last few years have been pretty awful for music fans, so to hear of the death of Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley this evening was another bitter blow for many of us.

I’m not going to say any more, except to suggest that you hit play and turn the volume up very loud…

The End of an Era: RIP ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke

Rock ‘n’ roll got a little less rock ‘n’ roll yesterday with the passing of the one remaining member of Mötorhead’s classic lineup, guitarist ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke. Guitarist for the band’s first six albums, he was responsible for the killer riffs that defined the band’s sound – most famously the driving, ferocious riffing that is the foundation of the all-time, stone-cold classic ‘Ace of Spades’

There’s no point in trying to intellectualise a band like Mötorhead, and why bother? Their blast volume music crossed the punk/metal divide with ease, and the classic line-up of Lemmy, Phil ‘Philthy Animal’ Taylor and Fast Eddie created a rock ‘n’ roll legend the likes of which we will never see again.

So turn the volume up and enjoy their simultaneously silly and kick ass version of Johnny Kidd and the Pirates ‘Please Don’t Touch’, recorded with the queens of eighties metal, Girlschool (a collaboration amusingly titled Head Girl), and let us hope the three of them are creating a noisy racket in a rehearsal room somewhere in rock ‘n’ roll heaven right now…

RIP ‘Fast’ Eddie Clarke (1950-2018)

“To all who pass that they may see, Rock ‘N’ Roll was a part of me”

Nik Cohn

More Toppermost!

You may recall that I wrote an article on the cult American punk/alternative musician Bob Mould for the excellent Toppermost music site a couple of years ago. Now, it seems that my scribbles helped inspire my transatlantic friend Wayne Jessup to contribute too, with this fascinating article (and accompanying playlist) on the near-legendary Boston post-punk band Mission of Burma being published just this week.

It’s excellent stuff and well worth a read, especially if you’ve not encountered Mission of Burma’s music before (although 90s kids may remember that their ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’ was covered by Moby on his 1996 Animal Rights album, and he certainly wasn’t the only one to cover the track. The original – and best – version is below). This is a band who may not be as well-known as perhaps they should be – but their influence has been quietly pervasive over the decades, inspiring a large proportion of the grunge and alternative rock bands who found fame in the 1990s. And you can’t really argue with that.

Time to jump in and find out more…

You can find more of Wayne’s writing at The Owl Mag and Burned All My Notebooks… What Good Are Notebooks – or follow him on Twitter here.

#KeepingItPeel 2017: Soundgarden (1989)

Today marks the thirteenth anniversary of the death of John Peel, so I’m Keeping It Peel with a choice session from his long-running Radio 1 show. Since we also tragically lost Soundgarden’s astonishing vocalist Chris Cornell earlier this year, I decided on this, recorded by the Seattle band in 1989 – just before the grunge scene exploded into the mainstream.

This session shows Soundgarden in a slightly different light to their usual downtuned metal-influenced rock, featuring as it does unexpected and rather fun versions of Sly & The Family Stone’s ‘Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)’ and John Lennon’s ‘Everybody’s Got Something To Hide (Except Me and My Monkey)’.*

As always with Soundgarden, I recommend you crank the volume up high – and while you do that, I’ll be off to play Badmotorfinger at the wrong speed in tribute to Peel and Cornell; two men who shaped my musical taste at a formative age.

Until next year, keep it Peel…

*If you fancy more unexpected and frankly odd cover versions, head over to Twitter and follow @UnlikelyCovers.

“It’s all part of my Autumn Almanac…”

Autumn has officially arrived, and with it comes another season of having this glorious slice of perfectly-formed pop genius permenantly stuck in my head. Deliciously British and very distinctly Kinkish, you can immediately hear how the influence of this song and this band are still an integral part of modern music. Open all the windows to the Autumn sunshine and crank the volume high….

Playlisting: Songs With Spoken Word Intros

Inspired by a recent tweet on the subject of such songs, this time I threw the Playlisting suggestions box open to my Twitter followers. And, as ever, they didn’t let me down. Thank you to everyone (especially @sirsidneyp) who took part in the fun over on Twitter last night for their excellent contributions to this cracking playlist!

I’m sure I’ve forgotten loads of relevent tunes, so I’ll be adding to this playlist over time. If you have any suggestions of songs I might have missed, feel free to comment or tweet me, and I’ll add those too. Previous Playlisting posts can be found here, here, and here

Albums of the Year 2016

One of said favourite record stores.

One of said favourite record stores.

I know, it’s already January 2017 – but better late than never…

Having spent a large chunk of 2016 pretty much immobile, I haven’t managed to pay my favourite record stores the usual regular visits over the last eight months or so – which means I have been very grateful to the good friends (they know who they are) who have helped out by providing my fix of new music, especially during the latter part of the year. None of them will be surprised that a high proportion of their selections appear on this list!

As usual, this is a very personal and fairly eclectic list, and consists solely of the albums I enjoyed the most in 2016 – I tend to ignore media end of year lists, and focus instead on the music I actually like instead of the bands and albums the music press tell me I should be into. Inevitably, they occasionally get it right and there is some crossover with my list, but compiling these choices is all so subjective anyway…

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Thanks, Sir George: Naming blogs the Beatles way

This is why I owe the late Sir George Martin (and the Beatles) a small and personal debt of gratitude.

When I started this blog in the summer of 2009, one of the first things I needed to do was give it a name. My previous blog hadn’t been called anything, it was just an extension of my MySpace account (yeah, I know…), so it really wasn’t a subject that I’d ever given any serious thought to. I spent several afternoons scrolling through the hours and hours of music on my laptop, hoping to hit upon a song title or a lyric that would fit in with what I was trying to express with this smart new blog I was so excited about.

Eventually, I gave up in frustration and just let the music play (as a wise lady once sang) while I got on with my work. I admit that I wasn’t really paying attention by the time the Beatles’ Revolver began playing – my mind had wandered off elsewhere, as it is wont to do. It would be true to say that I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan full stop (in fact, my views on them could well be considered somewhat…. iconoclastic, perhaps), but I do love Revolver. It’s the perfect transitional album between the ‘pop’ Beatles and the ‘psychedelic’ Beatles, effortlessly picking up where Rubber Soul left off, and it is arguably some of George Martin’s finest work.

Suddenly, that lovely, upbeat almost Motown-style brass opening of ‘Got To Get You Into My Life’ kicked into my headphones and Paul McCartney began to sing:

I was alone, I took a ride, I didn’t know what I would find there/Another road where maybe I could see another kind of mind there

I instantly sat bolt upright in my chair. That. Was. It. Another kind of mind – it was perfect. It was me. As someone of an imaginative bent who has also had experience of mental illness, I guess I’ve always felt like I do have another kind of mind. It just sounded right. Much later on, I discovered McCartney had written the song about his early experiences with cannabis, and that also amused me no end. It really was the perfect name for this blog then, and it still is today.

So, thank you George Martin – without your genius, the Beatles might never have made Revolver, and this Another Kind Of Mind would have been very different (and probably nowhere near as much fun)…

And Ziggy Played Guitar: Farewell David Bowie

Bowie album coversFrankly, I’m in shock. It’s been a horrible year or so for music fans, with so many greats leaving us – but this was so unexpected, especially as a brand new David Bowie album, Blackstar, was only released a couple of days ago. Now it seems like that the album was his way of saying goodbye, a last gift for his fans.

As an 80s kid, I was always drawn to Bowie’s striking appearance and the music he was making at the time (plus there was Labyrinth, and the lovely intro he did for The Snowman). But it wasn’t until I was older that I began to explore his 70s output, and it immediately struck a chord with me. Here was a man whose music and image told people like me that it didn’t matter that we felt like freaks and weirdos, that we felt different to the rest of the world – in fact, it was a good thing and we should nurture and treasure our differences, our weirdness. He was uncompromisingly himself (whoever that was at any given time) and we should be too.

And that was a message I, and so many others, needed to hear.

For all the immediate, visual theatricality of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane and all the rest, Bowie was real, and that’s why he had such an impact. If it had only been the front, the image, I doubt he would have become as iconic as he did. Instead, he had the image, AND the passion, the commitment and oh! so very much the music. And it’s the music which secures his immortality, beyond question or debate. So, it is with his music that I pay tribute today.

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