Saturday, 31 January 2009

John Martyn - tribute

I don't usually do tributes, mainly because other blogs/media media tend to do these kind of things much more thoroughly, but I couldn't let the sad passing of the legendary singer/songwriter John Martyn go without a small tip of a hat and a big thank you for all the wonderful music he created in his lifetime.

I think it's safe to say that his album Solid Air is a stone cold classic and a copy should be part of any self respecting music fan's collection. It's a record that is regularly given a spin by me, when I feel the need to mellow out and each time I'm struck by just how fresh it still sounds... A sure sign of quality! It's also a reminder for me to delve further into his back catalogue, as I have inexplicably neglected to mine deeply this rich seam of folk gold up to now; high time to remedy this oversight now.. so R.I.P to you John and that's all that really needs to be said...

John Martyn - May You Never from the album Solid Air (1973)

The two albums he made early in his career with his (ex) wife Beverley, a phenomenal talent in her own right, are also highly recommended.

John and Beverley Martyn - Auntie Aviator from Road to Ruin (1970)

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

From Europe With Love

Can we have one more aeronautical album cover please? Oh, go on then! Behold the jet plane image on the 1965 release, called From Europe With Love, issued by 'World Record Club' (T 449) A continental compilation, that promises to be as sophisticated, debonair and romantic as the title suggests.

From Europe With Love has contributions from Emile Belcourt, Roberto Cadinale, Julie Dawn and Janie Marden and the Europeans. The music is arranged and conducted by Bobby Richards and his Orchestra.

Side One
Quando Quando
Non Ho L'eta Per Amarti
Et Maintenant
Je Ne Regrette Rien
Il Nostro Concerto

Side Two
La Mer
Al Di La
La Novia
Never On Sunday

This must be the definitive cover version of 'Never On Sunday' The song, composed by Manos Hadjidakis, went on to win an Academy Award and was the soundtrack to the 1960 Greek film, Never On Sunday, directed by Jules Dassin starring Melina Mercouri.

The Muppets
- Never On Sunday
(this has nothing to do with music, being a marketing/advertising site, but gets a mention for the quality logo)

Monday, 19 January 2009

Os Sambacanas - Fly Me To Brazil

The flying theme continues with a gem of easy listening, latin flavoured album from 1969 with an aeroplane themed cover.

So welcome aboard to some more in flight entertainment, we'll be cruising at 37,000 feet with some samba influenced chilled beats, putting a new twist on some very familiar songs of the late Sixties.

This was originally recorded in Brazil by Julio Nagib, who used authentic Brazilian instruments on these tracks. It was originally released as...

Meet Os Sambacanas - Sucessos da Juventude em Tempo de Samba

Then DJM (Dick James Music) re-released it in the U.K with the new aircraft cover as shown. "Apparently Julio Nageb met the DJM people at MIDEM music fair and they bought the rights" (thanks to Gary from the comments box at the loromix.blogspot link below for the extra information)

An Adventure In Stereo indeed

Track Listing (1969)

Side 1
1. Hey Jude
(John Lennon / Paul McCartney)
2. Fly Me To The Moon
(B. Howard/B.May)
3. Romeo Und Julia
(H. Mayer / H. Bradtke)
4. Step Inside Love
(John Lennon / Paul McCartney)
5. Perto dos Olhos Longe Do Coração (Dori Épson / Marcos Roberto)

Side 2

6. Those Were The Days
(G. Raskin)
7. Yesterday
(John Lennon / Paul McCartney)
8. Delilah
(L. Reed / B. Mason/T.J Binicki)
9. Epor Isso Estou Aqui
(Roberto Carlos)
10. Namoradinha De Um Amigo Meu
(Roberto Carlos)

A download is available from here, for those of you wanting to pursue this further..

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Hero of the Hudson - A Tribute

2009 is set to be a real downer of a year, every time I switch on the morning news, it's bad news and wall to wall misery. However, when yesterday, the lead story began with the miracle crash landing on the Hudson River in New York, with all 155 passengers and crew surviving the impact, after both engines were blown out from hitting a flock of geese, this rare piece of good news brought a broad smile to my face.

I felt the moment couldn't pass without a little musical tribute to the brave actions of the Captain, whose extraordinary flying skills and quick thinking actions saved the day. Let's face it, we need a man to look up to and admire in these moribund times, especially after putting up with all the chancers, bullshitters, snakes and blame shirkers who make up our motley assortment of politicians, bankers, business people and general movers and shakers these days.

Towering above this morass of inadequacies, stands that one figure, who cut the mustard when he needed to, cue Chesley B 'Sully' Sullenberger III; husband, fighter pilot, captain and hero. Surely there's going to be a resurgence of babies named Chesley after the great man and we salute you and your masterful flying prowess with this video montage.

Jimi Hendrix - Crash Landing

Captain Beefheart - Big Eyed Beans From Venus - Another Capt worthy of his stripes.

Captain Beefheart - Electricity - I'm Ready For Take Off!

Elton John - Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Built By Snow - Mega

Now, I've never stepped inside an American High School in my entire life, yet I believe that I would be able to get to grips with all the rituals and strange nuances of these education institutions fairly quickly. This is mainly due to regularly digesting many hours of television programmes and films, set in these locations, over the years. A lifetime of absorbing John Hughes films, classics like Pink In Pink, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Clueless, Dazed and Confused (a personal favourite) Schlock Horror movies, My So Called Life, Beverley Hills 901234556789 and ahem High School Musical has equipped me with all the preparation one would need to seamlessly fit in this universal part of the American Dream.

(Full marks for the vinyl copy of 'Back To The Future' Soundtrack)

The concept of parking up at the school gates in an smart open top car with stretched fenders is well within my grasp (a long way off the rusty banger of a V.W Polo with mould growing on the back seats, I used to actually limp into college in, back yonder) A quick dash into lessons via the metal detectors, "Sorry officer, I forgot about the Magnum lurking in my gym bag!" running along those wide polished aisles with hundreds of lockers on either side and saunter into the classroom parking my butt (see, I know the lingo) on one of those single seats, the ones with the funny pull out writing desk attachments, ready to give a quick run through of relative merits of the forty three (four) presidents.

Of course, learning facts is the way down the list of priorities at these places.. everyone knows High School is about learning to being COOL! Getting in with the right crowd is all important and being seen hanging out with the right people is vital. These places are a microcosm of life's big pecking order, packed with enough complex animal groupings, to give a David Attenborough Wildlife Documentary, a run for it's money.

Teenagers instinctively herd together and are acutely aware of the sliding scale of social order, that keeps everyone in their place. The alpha males of the jocks rule the roost, they swagger and bray, knowing they get first dibs on any prey, as they display their physical prowess, by bashing into each other at high speed on the football pitch. The cheerleaders display their physical attributes, in routines designed to remind everyone, that beauty is the major asset in this society. The valley girls know what to wear, how to talk and where to access all the right parties. The alt/emo scene are the flip side of these scenes rejecting accepted conformity and rebelling against the system. Every educational establishment has the stoner scene, who are kept on side by all cliques, because everyone needs their access to the drugs. Halfway down the pecking order are the regular kids, keeping their scores up by actually working, but not standing out too much. Then, there are all the groups based on racial, class and gender lines to tick off. Finally, we have the geeks, at the bottom of the pile, excluded and exiled from most socially inclusive activities, busy doing Spelling Bees, hanging out in the library or sitting in a dank recess of a room, solitary nerds busy typing away at a computer, in the middle of the night (oh hang on, that sounds familia...ahem!) These guys know their place and it doesn't really matter, because in ten years time, they'll have sold some Web 2.0 application for millions, letting them magically rise to the top of the heap.

So, I know the score and I'm ready to assert my place in the pantheon of High School Life. Thirty years of watching films like 'Never Been Kissed' have not been wasted, it's all been usual research and I now know how to high five with the jocks and give a wide berth to the invites to Math Club.

But hold up, Arrrrrghhhh! I'm all confused, Built by Snow have come along, thrown a rock hard snowball in my face and now the consequences are melting down the back of my neck. Why? well they look a bit nerdy, dress a bit square and profess to be interested in computers and retro games and such like. Yet instead of channelling these youthful indiscretions into a project for the science fair, they've formed a band. Not just any old band, one that plays edgy, antsy, synth punk pop. The BBS sound is The Buzzcocks meeting Hot Chip with a cough of Weezer, the towering wit of They Might Be Giants all driven by new wave power pop of The Cars. They also name check Scratchy favourites Tegan and Sara, so all in all they've turned all my stereotypes on my head. What a dilemma, I want to hang with the geeks, they're iglcool..! BBS will get an invite to the High School Prom; they'll go down a (snow) storm.

Built By Snow - Mega nine tracks, twenty two minutes. released on January 20th 2009
As they sing "I'm a weird kid so come with me let's go!"

Built By Snow - Underneath directed by Matt Murray and Andy Garibay

Built By Snow
-All The Weird Kids Know - Directed by a Fan?

Usually, when I'm drop one of these band big ups, as the youth of today tend to say these days (I'm down wid da kidz, daddio) I tend to cherry pick the interesting parts of a band's press bumph and fill in the gaps with my personal slant on the proceedings. However, BBS have produced a rather wonderful press release done in the style of a Golden Age comic, so I might as well reproduce this as it has all the relevant information on, it's the bees knees.

Live Events..
18 Jan 2009 22:00 KVRX Local Live-STREAM THE SHOW- The entire world!

24 Jan 2009 21:00 Club DeVille - Built By Snow, "MEGA" CD Release Party! Austin, Texas

4 Feb 2009 21:00 Creekside Lounge - 101x Homegrown Live Show Austin, Texas

25 Feb 2009 21:00 at Emos w/ The Authors Austin, Texas

Friday, 2 January 2009

George Best - Shape Up & Dance

The New Year brings resolutions about beginning virtuous activities and getting the body back into shape after the festive season of over indulgence with the food, drink and vegetating in front of the television. After an afternoon spent watching Saints v Manchester United down the pub, the event jogged my memory about a fine platter of vinyl matter, that could provide some inspiration into kick starting these healthier activities for 2009.

Yes I'm talking about one of the series of mid Eighties records called 'Shape Up & Dance' (It Takes Two) starring George Best and Mary Stavin, released to cash in on the burgeoning keep fit industry.

Now for those of you not familiar with the ins and outs of football (soccer) George Best was one of the finest exponents of the game, playing during the late Sixties and early Seventies for Manchester United, probably the most famous club in the World. He was a shy lad from Northern Ireland who weaved magic with his a leather ball, it seamed to stick to his feet until he decided to perform an audacious piece of skill, usually resulting in an exquisite goal. Debates still rage among fans as to whether he was the best player ever to grace the game, certainly he was up there among the footballing gods like Pelé, Johan Cruyff and Franz Beckenbauer.

However, his career took a sharp decline as his fondness for partying, drink and glamorous women took precedence over the football and after quitting United at just twenty seven, he began an inexorable slide into alcohol addition, that led to a spell in prison, a liver transplant and associated health problems that would sadly eventually kill him.

Let's turn the clock back the 1984 when this record was pressed, Best's endorsement still very bankable, however the brand was beginning to get tarnished with his fast living and I guess the money was drying up, thus leading to him agreeing to lend his name to such a ludicrous project as this. As you can see though, his playboy good looks were still intact and his credibility was such, that they teamed him up with Mary Stavin, a former Miss World, he was well known for dating a number of Miss World winners, including our Mary.

Inside, there was an eight page booklet, graphically outlining each aerobic movement, choreographed by Christina Brookes. Various bouncy hits songs of the day complement the instructional audio. I wonder if Ray Davies ever thought when he started The Kinks that one of his songs (Come Dancing of course) would one day be used to help work off the cellulite of housewives, in living rooms around the world. George looks mildly embarrassed to be there at the photo shoot, but still, kudos points have to be given for managing to get to cavort with the very flexible Miss Stavin in a number of intimate positions as a job. Nice work if you can get it!

Now the real horror of this artifact is revealed on the back cover where it advertises 'Shape Up & Dance' as one of a series of ten, starring various legends of entertainment like Felicity Kendal Angela Rippon, Isla St Clair, Suzanne Dando, Patti Boulaye, Jay Aston and Lulu. It makes me shudder to think what some of these records were like, still the series was a great success with accompanying videos and a double album 'Shape Up For Motherhood' also released, until the aerobic boom petered off presumably due to a shortage of stripy leg warmers.

I would upload samples of the music but it's so shocking that it's not worth the effort and quite frankly I'd rather remember George Best for his magic on the pitch, so here's a montage of his finest moments - Happy New Year...