Wednesday, 29 July 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1992 - PJ Harvey "Dry"

2000s Stories From The City Stories From The Sea album was the first time I really got PJ but when follow up album White Chalk also blew me away I began to work my way back through her earlier work and discovered these to be just as fabulous.

1992 - PJ Harvey "Dry"

Released: March 1992
Label: Too Pure
Producer: Head, Rob Ellis, PJ Harvey

Track List:
1. "Oh My Lover" 3:57
2. "O Stella" 2:36
3. "Dress" (Harvey, Rob Ellis) 3:16
4. "Victory" 3:16
5. "Happy and Bleeding" (Harvey, Ellis) 4:50
6. "Sheela-Na-Gig" 3:11
7. "Hair" 3:45
8. "Joe" (Harvey, Ellis) 2:33
9. "Plants and Rags" (Harvey, Ellis) 4:09
10. "Fountain" 3:52
11. "Water" 4:32

(All tracks composed by PJ Harvey, except where noted)


Friday, 24 July 2015

Harkive 2015

Harkive is an annual, online music research project that gathers stories from people around the world about how, where and why they listened to music on a single day. 21st July 2015 was the third iteration and the third time I've taken part.

I got things off to an early listening to Spotify via my iPhone at quarter past midnight as I tried to get to sleep. Music helps me shut down and there aren't many nights I go to sleep without some form of music playing.

Despite the late night I was up before Seven the following morning and listening to BBC 6 Music via the Digital Radio in the Kitchen. This isn't something I normally do but I was motivated to do the washing up I'd failed to do the night before after getting sidetracked into watching a couple of ropey old movies.

The ever excellent Chris Hawkins ended his show with a bit off Jimi Hendrix ...

Then Craig Charles, a welcome stand-in for regular breakfast show host Shaun Keaveny, opened with the Ramones, a choice guaranteed to put me in a good mood.

21st July 2015 was also my youngest's last day at Primary school and therefore the very last time I'd ever do the familiar walk to school to drop him off. I did my best to put a brave face on for the relentless passing of time.

Jumped in the car and headed off to work with sounds provided by my iPod. I was in work by 9:30 which meant no music until lunchtime at the earliest.

Thankfully I managed to have a proper lunch hour today and dragged myself to the gym for a long overdue bit of exercise. I took my iPhone with me and listened to a playlist of new music on shuffle as I plodded along on the cross-trainer.

Then no music again until the drive home, continuing to listen to my current favourite Thee Oh Sees album.

After eating tea & washing up I did a bit of ironing and caught up with a Marc Riley show from last week. I record these on my TV Hard Drive Recorder which saves me having to rely on the BBC iPlayer and gives my ears a break from using headphones.

Had planned an early night but ended up listening to the last half hour of the Gideon Coe show live via a portable digital radio.

Squeezed in my final Harkive tweet of the day at 23:59 ...

... which turned out to be the final UK Harkive tweet too.

The Harkive website now has a data explorer section which provides all sorts of possibilities for examining what people are listening too and how they listen. My summary of facts and figures looks something like this (no visual stats yet as I've not got time but I might come back to this later as I reckon everyone loves a Pie Chart).

Devices used: iPhone, Digital Radio, iPod Nano, TiVo HDR, Portable Digital Radio
Music Sources: Spotify, BBC 6Music, my MP3 library
Music choices: Bit of a mixed bag but generally fairly recent alternative guitar based rock


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1991 - Nirvana "Nevermind"

This album had a huge impact on my music tastes. I remember hearing a Nirvana track on a late night radio show hosted by Whispering Bob Harris, of all people, while I was on a mini trip round Scotland. I picked up my copy as soon as I got home and it was the major catalyst in my conversion from Metal Head to broader horizons.

1991 - Nirvana "Nevermind"

Released: September 1991
Label: DGC
Producer: Butch Vig

Track List:
1. "Smells Like Teen Spirit" (Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic) – 5:01
2. "In Bloom" – 4:14
3. "Come as You Are" – 3:39
4. "Breed" – 3:03
5. "Lithium" – 4:17
6. "Polly" – 2:57
7. "Territorial Pissings" (Cobain, Chet Powers) – 2:22
8. "Drain You" – 3:43
9. "Lounge Act" – 2:36
10. "Stay Away" – 3:32
11. "On a Plain" – 3:16
12. "Something in the Way" – 3:46
13. "Endless, Nameless" [Hidden Track] - 6:43

(All tracks composed by Kurt Cobain, except where noted)


Wednesday, 15 July 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1990 - Fugazi "Repeater"

I don't suppose many people discovered the Washington D.C. based hardcore band due to them sharing a name with Marillion's second album.

At some point in the 90s I saw an ITV documentary on Fugazi which was excellent. I was intrigued by the DIY ethic and their straight-edge lifestyle but the music seemed a bit too scary for me at the time (I wasn't long out of REO Speedwagon compilations).

True to form it took me a long time to really investigate, but when I finally dipped my toe in I fell, head over heals in love.

Not. One. Duff. Album. Repeater is probably my favourite but they're all amazing.

1990 - Fugazi "Repeater"

Released: April 1990
Label: Dischord
Producer: Fugazi, Ted Niceley

Side one:
1. "Turnover" - 4:16 (Picciotto)
2. "Repeater" - 3:01 (MacKaye)
3. "Brendan #1" - 2:32
4. "Merchandise" - 2:59 (MacKaye)
5, "Blueprint" - 3:52 (Picciotto)

Side two:
6. "Sieve-Fisted Find" - 3:24 (Picciotto)
7. "Greed" - 1:47 (MacKaye/Picciotto)
8. "Two Beats Off" - 3:28 (Picciotto)
9. "Styrofoam" - 2:34 (MacKaye)
10. "Reprovisional" - 2:18 (Picciotto)
11. "Shut the Door" - 4:49 (MacKaye)


Wednesday, 8 July 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1989 - Pixies "Doolittle"

Oh, hello. It's those Pixies again.

This is a magnificent album opening with the bass thrum of Debaser which is one of my all time favourite songs. Monkey Gone To Heaven might be the bands best known song. Tame & Crackity Jones are big live favourites. In 2009 I got to see them play the whole album in full and in order at Brixton Academy.

1989 - Pixies "Doolittle"

Released: April 1989
Label: 4AD
Producer: Gil Norton

Side one:
1. "Debaser"
2. "Tame"
3. "Wave of Mutilation"
4. "I Bleed"
5. "Here Comes Your Man"
6. "Dead"
7. "Monkey Gone to Heaven"

Side two:
8. "Mr. Grieves"
9. "Crackity Jones"
10. "La La Love You"
11. "No. 13 Baby"
12. "There Goes My Gun"
13. "Hey"
14. "Silver" (Francis/Deal)
15. "Gouge Away"

(All tracks composed by Black Francis, except where noted)


Friday, 3 July 2015

Collaborative Top 5 - Songs about Time - THE VOTE

Are you all ready for another one of these. Thought I'd best give you something to get the brain cogs working whilst I finish watching Carry On films. I'm going straight to a vote, so who knows how long it will take to get a clear winner, but there's a Spotify playlist below to help you get started.

Vote for your top five (either one to five or unordered) via the comments or Facebook or Twitter or down the pub.


Wednesday, 1 July 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1988 - Pixies "Surfer Rosa"

Another album I didn't discover until an early 90s epiphany largely brought about by hearing Nirvana's Nevermind. I've written about this album before so will leave this fairly short.

The Pixies have become my favourite band, Surfer Rosa my favourite album.

1988 - Pixies "Surfer Rosa"

Released: March 1988
Label: 4AD
Producer: Steve Albini

Side one:
1. "Bone Machine"
2. "Break My Body"
3. "Something Against You"
4. "Broken Face"
5. "Gigantic" (Francis/Kim Deal)
6. "River Euphrates"

Side two:
7. "Where Is My Mind?"
8. "Cactus"
9. "Tony's Theme"
10. "Oh My Golly!"
11. "Vamos"
12. "I'm Amazed"
13. "Brick is Red"

(All tracks composed by Black Francis except where stated)


Friday, 26 June 2015

Chop's Gigs - May

Only one gig in May which keeps this nice and short. I have been to two gigs already in June but haven't managed to write up the gig reports yet.

Dead Rat Orchestra perform Tyburnia at Apiary Studios on Friday 29th May 2015 - Another interesting project from the Dead Rat Orchestra following last years' wonderful trip along the canals & waterways. This time they were providing a live soundtrack for James Holcombe's Tyburnia film charting the history of public execution and playing in venues as close to the former locations of regional gallows as they could find.


Wednesday, 24 June 2015

50 years of tunes - 1987 - R.E.M. "Document"

I didn't get into R.E.M. until Out Of Time broke huge in the summer of '91 having previously dismissed them as being a bit too Indie for me. The 90s was the decade when I broadened my musical horizons a bit and R.E.M. had a lot to do with that. I worked my way back and discovered the joys of their early I.R.S. catalogue which is full of gems. Their debut album Murmur might be my favourite but Document runs it very close.

1987 - R.E.M. "Document"

Released: September 1987
Label: I.R.S.
Producer: Scott Litt and R.E.M.

Side one – "Page side"

1. "Finest Worksong"
2. "Welcome to the Occupation"
3. "Exhuming McCarthy"
4. "Disturbance at the Heron House"
5. "Strange" (Bruce Gilbert, Graham Lewis, Colin Newman, Robert Gotobed)
6. "It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)"

Side two – "Leaf side"

7. "The One I Love"
8. "Fireplace"
9. "Lightnin' Hopkins"
10. "King of Birds"
11. "Oddfellows Local 151"

(All tracks composed by Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, except as indicated)


Friday, 19 June 2015

Collaborative Top 5 - Carry On Films RESULT

I've not quite made it through all the films (I'm up to 17 at last count). It turns out watching one movie a day doesn't leave much time for getting anything else done but I will make it through the rest as soon as I can. Partly this failure was due to finding I couldn't watch a film EVERY night but it was also a result of my youngest deciding he wanted to watch them too.

He caught on around Carry On Cabby and since then I've tried to make sure we get to watch them together. Hearing George literally laughing out loud has made the films even more enjoyable and it's lovely to see him experience the series for the first time. He's not voted as he sensibly pointed out to me he's not seen them all yet, but I might come back and do a mini update when he has.

Thanks to everyone who voted, the top five were pretty clear from quite early on though the final order changed as more people voted. Up The Khyber & Screaming were neck and neck all the way and it came down to a very few votes. Cleo was clear in 3rd, while Camping & Doctor comfortably ahead of the film in 6th place. I've included the full list so you can see where your favourite came.

1. Carry On ... Up The Khyber (1968) - This is a big favourite of mine too. I placed it second in my top 5 but it could easily have been my number one. Sid James is in fine form as Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond, Joan Sims is back playing Sid's screeching wife, Kenneth Williams is wonderful as the Khasi of Khalabar and Bernard Bresslaw gets to play another tribal warlord, Bungdit Din, reprising a similar role in Follow That Camel. There's some brilliant one liners all the way through but the best is saved for last with the British completing a black tie dinner amidst the destruction of their garrison.

2. Carry On Screaming (1966) - I didn't see this one properly until a few years ago so it still seems quite fresh to me. Harry H Corbett makes his only Carry On appearance as Detective Sydney Bung. Of the regular cast only Kenneth Williams (Dr. Orlando Watt), Jim Dale (Albert Potter), Joan Sims (Emily Bung - screeching again, this time at Harry H. Corbett) and Charles Hawtry (in a great cameo as Dan Dan the Lavatory Man) appear. Star of the show though is Fenella Fielding as Valeria, in her second and final Carry On, who makes me feel all unnecessary.

3. Carry On Cleo (1964) - Surprisingly this is the only top 5 entry to include Kenneth Connor. He was a mainstay of the early films appearing in all but Spying up to this point but Cleo was his last until Carry On Up The Jungle in 1970. Sid James & Kenneth Williams are in fantastic form, the Infamy! Infamy! line one of the most memorable of the series. As is Amanda Barrie's performance as Cleopatra *loosens collar*.

4. Carry On Camping (1969) - Sid & Bernie attempt to take their girlfriends to a nudist campsite but fail miserably. Peter Butterworth is brilliant in the role of money-grabbing farmer Josh Fiddler. Kenneth Williams plays Dr Soaper, the head of an all girls school, with Hattie Jacques reprising her role as Matron from Carry On Doctor. Probably the most famous Carry On scene sees Barbara Windsor's bikini top fly off into the face of Dr Soaper during an outdoor aerobics session.

5. Carry On Doctor (1968) - Frankie Howerd makes his Carry On debut as Francis Bigger a charlatan faith healer. Jim Dale is at his physical best in the starring role of the clumsy but well meaning Dr Kilmore. Barbara Windsor (who had previously appeared in Carry On Spying) has a small but memorable role as Nurse Sandra May, which led to her becoming a regular fixture. This was the first of three hospital based Carry Ons, which do tend to merge into one, but I think it's the best. Hattie Jacques is great as Matron, a role she has first played back in 1959 during Carry On Nurse.

I've updated my personal top five which I originally published back in 2007, Screaming and Doctor replacing Camping and Sergeant in my affections. I've really enjoyed watching them all again and reckon they've stood the test of time better than you might expect.

1. Carry On Cabby (1963)
2. Carry On ... Up The Khyber (1968)
3. Carry On Screaming (1966)
4. Carry On Cleo (1964)
5. Carry On Doctor (1968)

Full list of scoring films (the rest didn't get any votes though I'd recommend both Carry On Nurse & Carry On Regardless as good early Carry Ons).

1. Carry On ... Up The Khyber (1969)
2. Carry On Screaming! (1966)
3. Carry On Cleo (1964)
4. Carry On Camping (1969)
5. Carry On Doctor (1968)
6. Carry On Jack (1963)
7. Carry On Cabby (1963)
8. Carry On Cowboy(1965)
9. Carry On At Your Convenience (1971)
10. Carry On Abroad (1972)
11. Carry On Matron (1972)
12. Carry On Teacher (1959)
13. Carry On Cruising (1962)
14. Carry On Don't Lose Your Head (1966)
15. Carry On: Follow That Camel (1967)
16. Carry On Girls (1973)
17. Carry On Constable (1960)
18. Carry On Sergeant (1958)
19. Carry On Spying (1964)