Monday, 31 March 2014

Slint Blunt Vainio Adamson Stranglers‏

Last weekend was one of the best. I met up with lots of old friends and made a few new ones. On Friday I saw "Breadcrumb Trail", an informative documentary about Slint, at the Cornerhouse. My favourite part of the film was the letter from a five year old girl signing herself Dr Ill in response to Slint's request on the back of the "Spiderland" cover for any female vocalists interested in singing for them to get in touch. She wrote to tell them that she was much too good a singer for their band and wasn't interested. My friend Christian offered to pay for me to see Dean Blunt at Soup Kitchen so off I went to that with him and Eddie to check out some music new to my ears. Former Pan Sonic rhythm'n'noise experimenter Mika Vainio was at his explosive best at Islington Mill later, and Source Direct had me dancing about a bit even though I had to go stand outside the main room every ten minutes or so as it was cranked up so loud. Two attacks of intense strobes in one night (Dean Blunt and Evol's onslaught at the Mill) was a bit too much, and I ended up covering my face with my hat. Paddy from Gnod joined in on Mill roaming drum with Ninos du Brasil.

Saturday began with a new shortened version of "The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" on Radio 4, for two hours or so morphing meaningfully into Radio 42. At the Town Hall that afternoon Barry Adamson of Magazine and The Bad Seeds was being interviewed by Dave Haslam, whose Debris fanzine I used to read before ever setting foot in Manchester. Barry was humourous and entertaining and the discussion could've gone on twice as long. Afterwards I headed to the Northern Quarter to buy tickets for Fat Out Fest ( and Mike Watt (13.4 Ruby Lounge) and then took a quick look at the Cornerhouse Hiker Meat exhibition before heading south to see the Stranglers last British gig on their 40th anniversary tour. They probably played the best gig I've heard them play, with four ornately framed screens above showing notorious scenes from their past and video clips: "Midnight Summer Dream" accompanied by big black panther and little black cat; "Nice'n'Sleazy" with the strippers. After opening with "London Lady and "No More Heroes" I think they played at least one song from every studio album. The big surprise oldie we didn't expect to hear was "Peasant in the Big Shitty" and closing the main set with "5 Minutes" and "Hanging Around" was perfect. It was not yet time to die. Jet Black only played on four songs, "Golden Brown," the singalong number one that should've been "Always the Sun" and "Genetix" and the final two drummer encore of "Tank" with Dave Greenfield firing off big explosions. It was Dave's birthday and he donned a silly birthday cake hat with way too few candles for "Threatened." Baz Warne and JJ Burnel did a silly waltz to "Thrown Away" described by JJ as ther disco number. The first three song encore found them adding an over the top drum solo to the end of "Something Better Change." Other soongs they played included: Peaches, Walk On By, Was It You?, Nuclear Device, Duchess, Skin Deep, Never to Look Back, Valley of the Birds, Time to Die, Lowlands, Freedom is Insane, and in the first encore Norfolk Coast, All Day and All of the Night. After they took a bow and "Meninblack" played us out I headed to the Night and Day where Warm Widow had been playing but it was all over. People were hanging around outside and soon lots of Warm Widow friends headed to Gullivers where the Stranglers were on the jukebox and I got a generous glass of wine Warm Widow bassist Zak Haha was celebrating the remains of his birthday. So Zak and Dave Greenfield share a birthday and both played a gig on their birthday and it was one of the best days ever: the midnight summer dream had begun and I walked on by.

NOT RIGHT: A Porcine Stooge Error

Scott Asheton died recently so I thought I'd write something about Iggy and the Stooges. Ron Asheton is already dead. Stooges bassist Mike Watt brings his Missing Men to tour Britain soon (Manchester Ruby Lounge 13.4) and they will probably play at least one Stooges song. Last time I saw him he played "Funhouse."
The first time I heard the Stooges was somebody's request for "I Wanna Be Your Dog" on Annie Nightingale's Sunday evening show on Radio One, probably in 1984 or 1985. I taped the song as I was aware of the Stooges from Sex Pistols' cover of "No Fun." I misheard the name of the band and wrote 'Piggy and the Stooges' on the tape. I have always been a little disappointed that Iggy had no 'P' at the start of his name.

The first time I saw Iggy Pop he headlined the Reading Festival and didn't come close to the energy of the Ramones who probably hadn't been reading much before playing their "Too Tough to Die" set. He was also upstaged again next time by Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr, Silverfish and Babes in Toyland at the same festival. Nirvana played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" before it was a single and before most of the people had heard it and the crowd erupted like nothing I've seen before or since. Kurt Cobain, the Ramones and the Asheton Brothers weren't too tough to die but maybe some of their songs could be? The entire human race could be annihilated by an asteroid tomorrow so rock'n'roll might yet die.
Some people get better as they get older, or maybe they just improve because of the talents of those playing with them. Certainly the next time I saw Iggy Pop at the big Manchester Academy he had a harder heavier band and was on top form, dancing around more than any of the younger bands I already mentioned. This might I have been around the time of "American Ceasar."
Outside again with the Stooges, in a field somewhere outside Leeds was the real deal. Both Asheton brothers were then still living and the mighty Mike Watt was on bass. More people from the crowd got up on stage than was probably safe, they played most of the songs from their first two albums and "My Idea of Fun" and were well worth the trip. With Idlewild playing before them there was never any fear they'd get upstaged, but this was (almost) the band who inspired Sonic Youth, a rejuvenated band who had an energy to rival Sonic Youth and Iggy with the Asheton brothers had a magic that he didn't otherwise manifest.
My favourite Stooges song is "Not Right." I first heard its monstrous riff rsiing from the evil fog of Sonic Youth's "Bad Moon Rising." In 1985 that was the weirdest record I'd ever heard. The reformed Stooges would later record "The Weirdness" but it was nowhere near as weird as Sonic Youth were halfway through the eighties. The first time I saw Sonic Youth was the most exciting gig I ever heard, on the "Daydream Nation" tour at Kilburn National. Mudhoney supported and both bands came back for a second encore, a cover of "I Wanna Be Your Dog." Thurston Moore pulled down Mark Arm's trousers then Mark Arm dived into the crowd. That's NOT RIGHT.
The Asheton brothers live on in this: it's NOT RIGHT.

Rewind to Bargain of the Month

Two oranges, a lemon, an apple, some carrots and three red onions; five recent copies of New Scientist magazine and Mark Kermode's book about "The Exorcist" film for free from
Maybe when I have eaten and read it all I will have the knowledge to become a New Exorcist of Science. I haven't actually seen "The Exorcist" film but enjoyed a recent Radio 4 adaptation. I much prefer radio to film or television as I like to imagine my own imagery. I also do not want my mind infested with subliminal corporate advertising crap.

13.3 A trip to Notting Hill Exchange proved fruitful. Ten pounds of Caty Pepper tape money filled my bag with bargain bin CDs by the Stranglers, Sebadoh, REM, Elvis Costello, Leonard Cohen, Cold Specks, Henry Rollins, Urge Overkill, the Dauntless Elite, Arab Strap and best of all Emily Jane White's most recent album "Blood / Lines." Strangely a prettyboy band was shooting a video in the basement whilst I was down there. Just before I climbed the stairs the singer knocked a microphone so they had to retake. When I told the two exchangers upstairs one of them remarked "Amateurs!"

13.3 £13 of Caty Pepper tape money got me a Glacial LP "On Jones Beach." This is a stunning droning improv collaboration between Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo, Necks drummer Tony Buck and a bagpipe player called David Watson released by Three Lobed records. SLOW IS CERTAINLY GOOD. Even so the first side sounds good sped up at 45rpm. I commend it to your faces as one of Mr Ranaldo's finest finest 42 minutes and it nicely compliments the Rhys Chatham "Harmonie du Soir" CD I bought at the same time. They can spin loops around each other eternally.

CAR/ARC Carla Bozulich

Album of the month is "Boy" by Carla Bozulich on Constellation Records. I prefer it to her band Evangelista and consider it to be the best album she's recorded since my favourite album of hers "Evangelista." Carla sings amazing and emotionally dark songs that combine experimentation with a melodic sense lacking in so much so called experimental music. It seems very appropriate that I interviewed Thalia Zedek this month as Carla must surely be second only to her as North America's greatest singing woman.

An odd synchronicity occured in that the other new album I listened to in the first half of the March was "Archive Volume One" by ARC Soundtracks. The first three letters of both CARla and ARC are the letters of CAR the first single by Thalia Zedek's nineties band Come.
I also enjoyed the reissue of Sleepmakeswaves debut "In Today Already Walks Tomorrow" on Monotreme ( / This has the honour of being the only unsolicited promo CD I've listened to more than once in a hell of a long time. It will appeal to fans of Explosions in the Sky and Mogwai.

I will write longer reviews of these releases quite soon.

Caty Pepper March tape

This month I listened to quite a many new/old LPs and CDs thanks to my friend Caty Flynn and her enthusiasm for the Beatles. In an odd synchronicity as I was typing this I was listening to Late Junction on Radio 3 and Fiona Talkington played Cathy Berberian's 1967 cover of the Beatles "Girl," witch she recorded singing along to her daughter's Beatles records. I made Caty a tape of Beatles covers by bands such as Shockabilly, Husker Du, Pixies, The Damned, etc. She was very pleased with it to say the least but I was aware that I hadn't included the brilliant cover of "A Day in the Life" by The Fall so I had to find it and make another tape. After a couple of days I found the compilation it closes "Sergeant Pepper Knew My Father" in my bedroom and stuffed next to it was an envelope. In the envelope was £180 . I suspect I hid it away when I thought the banks were going to collapse five years ago. This meant I had a bit of extra unexpected money to spend in Piccadilly Records vinyl sale and Notting Hill Exchange the day after I saw Thalia Zedek Band play Upstairs at the Garage, Islington. The moral of this story is: I get by making tapes for my friends, I'm gonna try to make more tapes for my friends.

Also thanks to Nick Mitchell for pointing out the Cheater Slicks LP and for help the day after some fool tried to kick in the door of my flat after pretending to be the police and demanding a £30 bribe.

Thanks to Danny Saul for the Francis Dhomont recommendations. I prefer your second choice!

So here is a fascinating list of all the new CDs and LPs I bought in March that were released last year or before that I had never heard before.

1-2.3 from MANTIS electroacoustic weekend:
Trevor Wishart - Encounters in the Republic of Heaven CDR & book (2010)
Francis Dhomont - Sans le regard d'un Soleil Noir (1979-81)
Francis Dhomont - Autre Utopies (2006 / 1989-2005)

3.3 from Piccadilly Records sale
Giant Sand - Valley of Rain LP
Cheater Slicks - Reality is a Grape LP (2012)
James Blackshaw - Holly 12" EP
Oren Ambarchi & Robin Fox - Connected LP (2012)
Daniel Higgs - Say God 2LP (2010)

3.3 from Vinyl Exchange
Thela - Argentina (1996)
Guided By Voices - Teenage FBI / Fly into Ashes / Tropical Robots (1999)

8.3 from Hilary Cowtown when Cowtown played the Klondyke
Cowtown - Excellent Domestic Short Hair (2010) signed by Hilary and Jon

13.3 from Notting Hill Exchange
Glacial - On Jones Beach LP
Rhys Chatham - Harmonie du Soir (2012)
Nick Cave and Warren Ellis - White Lunar (2009)
Emily Jane White - Blood/Lines (2013) £1
Ministry - Houses of the Mole (2004) £3
Cold Specks - I Predict a Graceful Expulsion (2012) £1
The Dauntless Elite Graft (2007) 50p
Arab Strap - The Week Never Starts Around Here £1
Henry Rollins - excerpts from Get In the Van 50p
Music for a Revolution compilation £1
Plus cheap CDs I'd already heard by Wire, the Stranglers, Leonard Cohen, Elvis Costello, REM, Sebadoh, Neil Young and Urge Overkill.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

13.3 Tooting Market Cafe

The day after the Thalia Zedek Band gig I sat in Tooting market cafe killing time with vegetable soup before the tube fare decreases. "That's sick!" Two girls weren't commenting on the soup. It was very nice soup. It was my manual tape rewinder that had attracted their attention. They had never seen such a thing in their lives! They eventually left without eating most of their chips. I caught the look of disgust on the Italian waitress's face. "Don't worry, I'm certainly not leaving any of this delicious soup!" I told her. She laughed, "Well they paid for it." But it always is a shame to waste food. WASTE IS OBSCENE as Swans memorably sloganised at immense volume. Why trouble people to cook food and then not eat it? As I was leaving an old man asked if he could take my table in the corner. He was very friendly and the waitress remarked that he is always coming to the cafe. I told her I doubted I'd be back as I live in Manchester, but you never know.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Thalia Zedek Upstairs

Had a real cool time Wednesday 12th March travelling to London to hear Thalia Zedek Band play Upstairs at the Garage. Thalia has a new noisier band called E, and I was in coach E to Euston. I interviewed Thalia before the gig and also enjoyed rockin' support band the Franklys. The climax and highlight of Thalia's set was a full band version of AFLOAT my favourite song from SIX, played solo on the record. On returning I headed straight for the Noise Upstairs at Fuel where Sam Andreae (sax) and Rodrigo Constanzo (drums) were on fine improv form followed by some randomly selected collaborations. On Friday Grails bored me with their post-prog dubby mostly instrumental music until the encore when they revved up a bit of energy. Support band Lilacs and Champagne sounded like the Eagles imitating Tortoise and I fled outside halfway through their set to save my ears. Why does the Soup Kitchen stage have to be so low? I could only see the head of Grails bassist for most of the set with occasional glimpses of the rest of the band when I walked around the room trying to avoid the incessant chatter. Too many people were talking too loud during their gig and Thalia's gig. Everyone listened intently at the improv night in between: evidence that improvisers have better manners than rockers.