17 November 2011

Intros I

Is this intro

a reference to this intro?

07 March 2011


oof, didn't realize Pere Lebrun had beaten me to it with 'Little Johnny Jewel' – he did post the studio version however, so at least that creates a little compare & contrast

'LJJ' is unusual in that the song begins with a solo. They almost always come a couple of minutes in at least. Can't think of many other noteworthy examples, although 'Cortez the Killer' is stunning:

Plenty of other Neil Young solos worth mentioning; I've always liked the intensity of 'Southern Man', where he sounds as if he's grinding the solo into the face of the song. Or the song into the face of the solo. (Skip to solo.)

Most solos describe an arc, or an ascent don't they? A movement that builds in intensity from circular water-testing towards some kind of epiphanic moment - see Blissblog discussion of 'Marquee Moon' here. I think the 70s killed off a certain kind of solo which was more of a textural block, a series of small explosive detonations: moments where the solo doesn't sound like an attempt to escape the gravity of the song but burn a hole through it... like The Rolling Stones' It's All Over Now (skip to solo) or The Kink's You Got Me (skip to solo). Didn't Jimmy Page actually play the solo on 'YGM'? Dom nominates the Page solo from 'Ten Years After' here (why so English Dom, why not solos of distinction?). I would go for 'Heartbreaker'. One thing I especially enjoy about 'Heartbreaker' is it's studded with little errors (2m25s), moments where Page's finger can't quite keep up. But he's left them in (skip to solo).

Jazz flute interlude... Sonny Sharrock led a double life, paying the bills for his free/radical output by playing in flute snooze merchant Herbie Mann's band. Although it was Mann's vanity imprint that put out Black Woman, so u da Mann, Herbie. There are lots of anecdotes about Sharrock being allowed one Sharrockout a night on their supper-club dinner jazz tours, I remember reading one about a gig in a marina, all people in evening dresses lounging on their yachts. As Sharrock ripped out his wailing sheets of sound, the marina quietly drifted into a state of emptiness. You can hear him doing it to 'Hold On I'm Comin' from 5m30s ish here, although for the full impact it's worth listening to the preceding minutes of standard issue smooth funk.

Folk backwater. Carl mentions solos in Pentangle. I remember lovely examples on When I Get Home, and Sally Free and Easy – nothing on Youtube though & can't double check the vinyl till later. I think John Renbourn played all the electric in Pentangle. Jansch really hated the electric and had a thing about Pentangle as a respite from taking star turns. He did play electric in a one-off slightly disastrous gig at a St John's Wood pub backing an old blues singer (will have to look up the name), I've often wondered if there's a bootleg anywhere.

One more classic rock slash folk throwback before I post about Back to the Future and the solo AP (After Punk)... Buffalo Springfield's 'Bluebird' has an acoustic guitar solo, a definite rarity. I love it because it sounds so genuinely improvised and off the cuff, but also because Stills plays it so hard against the grain, against the instrument's type. He punches out this almost slap-bass, super muscular sound.

skip to solo

One more just because it popped into my head: Bob Quine's skincrawling solo on Lou Reed's 'Waves of Fear', here.

05 March 2011


Almost seems too obvious to post. I am a little obsessed with this version. Verlaine and Lloyd usually get all the props, but I think Billy Ficca and Fred Smith are incredible here.

07 February 2011

Off the Page

Date: Friday 11 - Sunday 13 February 2011
Venue: The Playhouse, Whitstable, U.K.
Produced by: Sound and Music and The Wire

Sound and Music and The Wire present Off the Page, the UK’s first ever literary festival devoted to music criticism. Taking place at the Playhouse Theatre, Whitstable, on the South coast, this weekend-long event will feature a host of internationally-renowned critics, authors, musicians and artists discussing the current state of underground and experimental music in a programme of talks, presentations, panel discussions and workshops.


Friday 11 February, 7pm – 10.30pm
Presentation: Robert Wyatt on his favourite music
Short films hosted by BFI and introduced by Jonny Trunk: Tristram Cary on film

Saturday 12 February, 10am – 10.30pm
Talk: Ken Hollings on the post-Cageian universe
Talk: Rob Young and Matthew Herbert on the impact of musique concrète on contemporary sonic culture
Talk: Steve Beresford and John Kieffer in conversation
Talk: Kodwo Eshun on his favourite music writing
Talk: Dave Tompkins on the history of the vocoder, from its use in the Second World War to its role in the era of Auto Tune
Talk: Teal Triggs on Fanzines
Presentation: Christian Marclay
Short films hosted by Lux: Cage On Cable

Sunday 13 February: 11am – 5pm
Roundtable discussion: including Mark Fisher, Nina Power, and The Wire editors on the role of music criticism on print and the Web
Panel discussion: Salome Voegelin, David Toop, Daniela Cascella on the philosophy of listening
In conversation: Green Gartside with Mark Fisher discussing politics and cultural theory in pop culture and music
Performance lecture: Claudia Molitor, Jennifer Walshe, Sarah Nicholls on music notation

01 February 2011


New Woebot album hit the doormat today. Chunks!

First impression, this is digging into guitar tradition again, but much earlier than Moanad's New Wave, late 70s/early 80s purview. It might even be Woebot's Groundhogs album. With some Grand Funk Railroad, Mountain and Bluesbreakers thrown in. Passing vision of cover art in which Matt, in mudstained bellbottoms and tight denim jacket, lounges in a farmyard. Three of him in fact, cloned to make a power trio. There's hours of sample-spotting here. But whatever the sources, there's a crispness of organization which transmutes it all into something new (shedding that Gutbucket feel on the way).

The physical edition of Blackest Ever Black's mix The Scold's Bridle. Great mix obviously, but the design - don't know how deliberate this is on their part, but it's very evocative for me of the 7" single's last days – the early to mid-90s before the internet came along & killed the market. Clear plastic sleeve, coloured paper insert folded, grimy photocopied insert. Makes me think of Trumans Water, early Drag City. In particular it reminds me of a Merzbow split 7" with some Midlands noise freak. Where did I put that?

Incomplete list of recent listening:

Æthenor's En Form for Blå - awesome gloomy improvisations that bring to mind doom and 70s Miles, with Steve Noble on drums, Daniel O'Sullivan on Rhodes, Stephen O'Malley on restrained lightning-fork-from-clouds guitar, Kristoffer Rygg from Ulver too

new Mamuthones - giallo fever

Yoko Ono/Ono Plastic Band, Between My Head and the Sky

Vangelis, Beauborg. One of Chris Cunningham's favourite records I recently found out. An excellent counterpart/point to the current synth fetish.

Isolée - all of it

Phil Manzanera - K-Scope

Incredible String Band - the unloved 70s stuff

Broadcast - for sad and obvious reasons

and Trish Keenan's Mindbending Motorway Mix

Natalie Beridze

that massive Nirvana boxset, With the Lights Out

Jad Fair - Best of TRIPLE cd. There's about 150 tracks on this and they couldn't be bothered to load the track info up to the iTunes Gracenote database. Bastards.

Bangs & Works Vol 1, (still)... try walking round the Westfield listening to that. You walk out looking for your flying saucer.

new Arnold Dreyblatt on Important - Turntable History - and lots of his previous stuff on Tzadik, Table of the Elements and elsewhere

plus pretty much everything by Plastikman

recent reading

If you like And What Will Be Left of Them and its thoughts on the 1970s, you will also want to check out its two sequels: Faces On Posters on the 1980s and Up Close & Personal on the 1990s. Who knows, at some point I may even get organized enough to contribute myself. A regular contributor to AWWBLT blogs at Pere Le Brun.

And two Alexes: Alex Niven's The Fantastic Hope and Alex Andrews over here (on politics, though hoping one day AA will blog more about prog, bleeps and clangs)