Wednesday, 26 August 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1996 - Johnny Cash "Unchained"

The second American Recordings album that didn't just put Cash back on the map, it crowned him king of all he surveyed.

I had some Johnny Cash stuff already but this album really spurred me into greater exploration of his back catalogue. There's till about 78 albums I've not heard to be honest but that's not a bad place to be.

The YouTube link is a playlist of the whole album, so, if you're short of time head straight to the track Unchained. It's my favourite.

1996 - Johnny Cash "Unchained"


Released: November 1996
Label: American
Producer: Rick Rubin

Track List:

1. "Rowboat" (Beck) – 3:44 - Originally recorded by Beck for Stereopathetic Soulmanure (1994)
2. "Sea of Heartbreak" (Paul Hampton, Hal David) – 2:42 - Originally a hit single for Don Gibson (1961)
3. "Rusty Cage" (Chris Cornell) – 2:49 - Originally recorded by Soundgarden for Badmotorfinger (1991)
4. "The One Rose (That's Left in My Heart)" (Del Lyon/Lani McIntire) – 2:26 - Originally recorded in 1930 by Jimmie Rodgers, also recorded by Larry Clinton, Bing Crosby, Art Kassel (all 3 in 1937), George Morgan, Hank Snow, and Michael Nesmith (1970)
5. "Country Boy" (Cash) – 2:31 - Originally recorded by Cash for Sun, appears on With His Hot and Blue Guitar (1957)
6. "Memories Are Made of This" (Richard Dehr/Terry Gilkyson/Frank Miller) – 2:19 - Originally a hit single by Dean Martin and The Easy Riders (1956)
7. "Spiritual" (Josh Haden) – 5:06 - Originally recorded by Spain for The Blue Moods of Spain (1995)
8. "Kneeling Drunkard's Plea" (Maybelle Carter/Anita Carter/Helen Carter/June Carter Cash) – 2:32 - Originally recorded by The Louvin Brothers for Satan Is Real (1960)
9. "Southern Accents" (Tom Petty) – 4:41 - Originally recorded by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers for Southern Accents (1985)
10. "Mean Eyed Cat" (Cash) – 2:33 - Originally recorded by Cash for Sun, appears on Sings Hank Williams (1960)
11. "Meet Me in Heaven" (Cash) – 3:21
12. "I Never Picked Cotton" (Bobby George/Charles Williams) – 2:39 - Originally recorded by Roy Clark for I Never Picked Cotton (1970)
13. "Unchained" (Jude Johnstone) – 2:51 - Later recorded by Johnstone for Coming of Age (2002)
14. "I've Been Everywhere" (Geoff Mack) – 3:17 - Originally a hit single by Lucky Starr (1959) and Hank Snow (1962)




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Wednesday, 19 August 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1995 - Palace Brothers "Viva Last Blues"

1995 could have been Radiohead's year, I love The Bends, but then I remembered Will Oldham's best album (or at least of the ones I've heard which is probably only about 20%). I notice this is another Steve Albini recorded release too, I'm a big fan of Albini and might have to tally up how many of these choices he was involved with come the end.

1995 - Palace Brothers "Viva Last Blues"


Released: August 1995
Label: Drag City
Producer: Steve Albini

Track List:
1. "More Brother Rides" – 3:18
2. "Viva Ultra" – 3:18
3. "The Brute Choir" – 2:43
4. "The Mountain Low" – 2:44
5. "Tonight's Decision (And Hereafter)" – 4:10
6. "Work Hard/Play Hard" – 2:50
7. "New Partner" – 3:54
8. "Cat's Blues" – 3:18
9. "We All, Us Three, Will Ride" – 2:56
10. "Old Jerusalem" – 2:16




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Saturday, 15 August 2015

Collaborative Top 5 Songs about Time - THE CONTENDERS

I had a feeling this one was going to be tricky. To be honest I've been distracted by various things including the school holidays and probably let it drag on a bit long. We've had lots of votes for lots of songs but are still quite a way from having a clear top five.


To rectify this I thought I'd list the top 25 contenders and get you to recast your votes accordingly.

There's a poll on the right hand side of the blog from which you can make your selections. Vote for as many as you like. Poll closes 1st September.

The full Spotify playlist is still active if you need a reminder or just want a bit of background music while you're picking your choices.


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Friday, 14 August 2015

Chop's Gigs - June/July

I'm flagging behind a little with these posts. In fact there are a couple of gigs I've been to I've not managed to write up yet but here are the latest updates from my Chop's Gigs sister blog.

Trembling Bells at Cafe Oto on Tuesday 30th June 2015 - A fantastic set that was focused on the new album but featured a couple of old favourites too. They've got a classic seventies rock feel live which is really very powerful but still rooted in folk. The extra guitar opened new possibilities without overpowering the songs. Alex did a great unaccompanied tune and Lavinia & Alex brought things to a close with another a capella version of Seven Years A Teardrop.


Ezra Furman at The Boileroom, Guildford on Wednesday 8th July 2015 - Ezra Furman is a star. No doubt about it. Ezra is riding high right now but he will remain a star irrespective of fashion or music fads. He's got a captivating personality that makes you want to hear him talk or sing and his live shows are never less than brilliant fun.


C Joynes & Dead Rat Orchestra at The Laughing Bell on Wednesday 22nd July 2015 - A fabulous night with two leading lights of the contemporary folk scene combining brilliantly in a wonderfully niche venue.


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Wednesday, 12 August 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1994 - Jeff Buckley "Grace"

The mid-nineties were a bit of a wilderness for me & new music. I was largely buying shit albums by bands that used to be good and even worse ones by people who used to be in bands that used to be good.

I discovered Grace thanks to the editor of the Jethro Tull fanzine and it became a beacon of brilliance at a time of vast greyness. Stunning vocals, great songs.

1994 - Jeff Buckley "Grace"


Released: August 1994
Label: Columbia
Producer: Jeff Buckley, Andy Wallace


Track list:
1. "Mojo Pin" (Jeff Buckley Gary Lucas) 5:42
2. "Grace" (Jeff Buckley Gary Lucas) 5:22
3. "Last Goodbye" (Jeff Buckley) 4:35
4. "Lilac Wine" (James Shelton) 4:32
5. "So Real" (Jeff Buckley Michael Tighe) 4:43
6. "Hallelujah" (Leonard Cohen) 6:53
7. "Lover, You Should've Come Over" (Jeff Buckley) 6:43
8. "Corpus Christi Carol" (Traditional Benjamin Britten) 2:56
9. "Eternal Life" (Jeff Buckley) 4:52
10. "Dream Brother" (Jeff Buckley Mick Gr√łndahl Matt Johnson) 5:26




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Friday, 7 August 2015

Top 5 Rock 'n' Roll Songs About Rock 'n' Roll

BBC 6music have been running a series of programmes about Rock 'n' Roll. Jim Jones did an excellent show sitting in for Guy Garvey which covered a really broad spectrum of artists from Eddie Cochrane and Jerry Lee Lewis to Tom Waits and The Stooges.

However, this top 5 gained it's inspiration from Gideon Coe's show The Best Rock 'n' Roll Songs About Rock 'n' Roll. As Gid said at the time, this was always going to be tricky to nail (especially in a one hour show) so he asked the listeners what they thought and picked the best. Despite Gid's modesty I think he nailed it. The tracklist on the BBC website is wrong so I've provided the full list below - I might add this lot to a Spotify playlist if I get the time.



The Best Rock 'n' Roll Songs About Rock 'n' Roll - Tracklist
Side 1
Chuck Berry "Rock & Roll Music"
Ramones "Rock & Roll Radio"
Jesus & Mary Chain "I Love Rock & Roll"
AC/DC "It's A Long Way To Top If You Wanna Rock & Roll"
Led Zeppelin "Rock & Roll"
David Bowie "Ziggy Stardust"
Warren Smith "Rock & Roll Ruby"
Andy Partridge "History of Rock"
Little Feat "Rock & Roll Doctor"
Side 2
Little Richard "Tutti Frutti"
Creedence Clearwater Revival "Travellin' Band"
The Byrds "So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star?"
Ian Dury & The Blockheads "Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll"
Matthew E White "Rock & Roll is Cold"
Mott the Hoople "The Golden Age of Rock & Roll"
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club "Whatever Happened To Our Rock & Roll?"
The Velvet Underground "Rock & Roll"

This obviously led me to consider my own favourites and that's this weeks' top five topic which proved Gid did miss a couple of my personnel favourites.

1. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts "I Love Rock & Roll" - I found out during my "research" for this top five that this was actually a cover, the original being by Arrows and first released in 1975. Jett first recorded the song, as a B-side to "You Don't Own Me", in 1979 with Steve Jones and Paul Cook of the Sex Pistols. It didn't become a huge hit until 1981 when Joan re-recorded it with the Blackhearts and it went on to be Billboard number one for seven weeks.



2. Ramones "Rock & Roll Radio" - This is Rock 'n' Roll Radio. From the Phil Spector produced End Of The Century album. Working with Spector had it's well documented ups and downs but this is a fabulous song that blends the absolute best elements of both band and producer.



3. AC/DC "It's A Long Way To Top If You Wanna Rock & Roll" - Can't have a list about rock 'n' roll without AC/DC in it. This is one of my favourite of their songs too.



4. Chuck Berry "Rock & Roll Music" - I had to include a genuine Rock 'n' Roll originator in here and Chuck has been a huge influence on many of my favourite bands. This is a corker of a tune.



5. Argent "God Gave Rock & Roll To You" - So, I do know this song best for the KISS cover but Argent's original is great and I felt they deserved the nod (the KISS version is pretty much a carbon copy). One of those songs I just can't help but sing along to.



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Wednesday, 5 August 2015

50 years of Tunes - 1993 - The Breeders "Last Splash"

1993 was a tricky year. I might prefer PJ Harvey's Rid Of Me slightly more than 1992's winner Dry and Nirvana's In Utero might just edge Nevermind in my affections. In the end I went with the sophomore effort from Kim Deal's post Pixies project.

Kim had clearly been getting frustrated within the songwriting confines of the Pixies and had released The Breeders debut album, Pod, in 1990. Last Splash was released after the Pixies officially split up (first time round) and is full of great tunes. The sound of Kim really enjoying her freedom. I was lucky to see The Breeders play the whole of this album in full on a recent reunion tour & the threw in the whole of Pod in order for an encore. One of my favourite gigs.

1993 - The Breeders "Last Splash"

Released: August 1993
Label: 4AD
Producer: Kim Deal, Mark Freegard

Track List:
1. "New Year" 1:56
2. "Cannonball" 3:33
3. "Invisible Man" 2:48
4. "No Aloha" 2:07
5. "Roi" 4:11
6. "Do You Love Me Now?" (Kim Deal, Kelley Deal) 3:01
7. "Flipside" 1:59
8. "I Just Wanna Get Along" (Kim Deal, Kelley Deal) 1:44
9. "Mad Lucas" 4:36
10. "Divine Hammer" 2:41
11. "S.O.S." 1:31
12. "Hag" 2:55
13. "Saints" 2:32
14. "Drivin' on 9" (Dom Leone, Steve Hickoff) 3:22
15. "Roi (Reprise)"


(All tracks composed by Kim Deal, except where noted)



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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)



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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

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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)



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