Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Dear friends and whanau and readers from the blogosphere in general,

As you know I am in China for a while and unfortunately my access to blogger, even with a vpn, is hit and miss. More miss than hit. So I will continue to post about our adventures in Wuxi, musical things and such on another blogsite that I can access. Please go to http://wnpurdy.blog.com from now until further notice for all the juicy bits that are fit to print.
Love and peace - Wozza

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Would you let it ride? (BTO)

Another Keegan compilation CD didn't rate with him unfortunately. It was my Heavy Metal/Rock CD.

Here's the track listing of the CD I called the...

The Heavy Rock one

Waste your tears – The Answer
Let it ride – Bachman-Turner Overdrive
Easy peasy – Black Spiders
White trash millionaire – Black Stone Cherry
Burnin' for you – Blue Oyster Cult
Fever – Bullet For My Valentine
Soap on a rope – Chickenfoot
The book of heavy metal – Dream Evil
Save us – Dream Evil
Heavy metal in the night – Dream Evil
Oh well – Fleetwood Mac
Iced Earth – Iced Earth
One more time – James LaBrie (from Dream Theater)
Curl of the burl – Mastodon
Spectrelight – Mastodon
Blood and thunder – Mastodon
Trampled underhoof – Mastodon

The profusion of Mastodon tracks is because Keegan requested a sample of their work. The Dream Evils are there cos I love their stuff.

I have noticed that Randy Bachman and Fred Turner are still touring together!! Amazing.

I loved the stuff they did as Bachman-Turner Overdrive. I didn't pick You ain't seen nuthin' yet, not because I don't love it, but Keegan would surely know it (who doesn't?) and they did other great songs worthy of inclusion.

When Randy Bachman left The (mighty) Guess Who he started out again with a band called Brave Belt. This eventually morphed into Bachman-Turner Overdrive and included at one time THREE Bachman brothers - main man Randy, drummer Robin (a.k.a. Robbie) and second guitarist Tim. C.F. 'Fred' Turner was on bass and vocals. 

Let it Ride, a Bachman/Turner composition) was a single off the second BTO album, with vocals from Fred.

For me, their sound transports me back to the seventies - riding around in my mum's Chevette - with the stereo blasting. Turn this one up!


Sunday, November 4, 2012

You're amazing, just the way you are (Bruno Mars)

I put a Bruno Mars song on a pop compilation for Keegan that seems to have raised some eyebrows amongst my whanau.

Here's the track listing:
Down by the river – Albert Hammond
September Gurls – Big Star
Levi Stubb's tears – Billy Bragg
You're my home – Billy Joel
Grenade – Bruno Mars
Bitter sweet memories – Bullet For My Valentine
Yellow river – Christie
Boogie wonderland – Earth Wing & Fire
Fooled around and fell in love – Elvin Bishop Band

I loved you – The Exponents
Teenage head – The Flamin' Groovies
It's the same old song – The Four Tops
Is she really going out with him? – Joe Jackson
Sex on fire – Kings of Leon
(I want to fly like) Superman – The Kinks
A new England – Kirsty MacColl
Baggy Trousers – Madness
Echo beach – Martha and the Muffins
All I need is a miracle – Mike and the Mechanics

My kids are amazed that I actually like Bruno; enough that I bought his album on the strength of Grenade.

Their reaction was quite interesting. If I'd said I quite liked Slayer, Opeth, Rammstein, Anthrax or something along those lines they would not even have blinked but Bruno Mars gets the, 'What the firetruck? You like Bruno Mars?' reaction. 

It was a bit of a fluke actually. I was watching TV one day and he was doing an acoustic live version of the song on The Graham Norton Show. Hang on - let me see if it's on youtube...

Wow - there it is - the interview and performance of Grenade. While I was searching for it I came across this (superior) version from a BBC session.


This song is catchy as all get out. I bet you end up singing it all day long! It's a great pop song.

Friday, November 2, 2012

That's the way it always comes around (Evermore)

My Roctober 22 post focused on being in the mood to buy CDs.

This post is Mood part 2.

As George Costanza says to Jerry Seinfeld (when Jerry won't give details of sleeping with Elaine cos he's not 'in the mood'):
I don't have a job, I have no place to go, you're not in the mood? Well you get in the mood!!
ZZ Top helped get me in the mood: repeated listens to I gotsta get paid sealed the deal after those videos from my Oct 22 post piqued interest.

In the end I bought three of the four CDs mentioned in that post (the only one yet to be purchased is the Diana Krall one).

The verdicts:

La Futura is awesome. The quality hinted at by the single, I gotsta get paid, is maintained throughout. Billy Gibbons sounds like he's channelling Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters at times. He's raw, he's ready, he's a funky gibbon!

There are plenty of early standouts, I've picked second track, Chartreuse, as being representative of the great sound the Three Tops can put out. The sonic quality is huge on the album. I listened to a few tracks on my p-pod from Afterburner (an album I love) before switching to the new one and La Futura is a much, much better sound.

The Datsuns' album is also a welcome relief after their last few outings have failed in inspire me. Dolf's yell, razor sharp guitars, boogie till you puke rifferamas!! What's not to like? It's a triumphant return to their signature sound and, this time out, it's a much meatier sounding sonic attack from the harmonic generators from Cambridge, NZ.

Evermore have returned to a sound that is closer to their second, much loved, album. The brothers from Feilding, NZ, know how to write hook laden pop songs, that's fer sure.

If I have a criticism it is that this is, at times, too much like their sound on album number 2 - Real Life and they are in danger of becoming too formulaic. I loved that album and it sounds churlish to say because pop music by definition is formulaic, but they could do with being a little bit more adventurous. The new one (Follow The Sun) could be Real Life Volume 2.

Hmmmm - maybe I'm being too tough. There are big songs on both albums and it will be on high rotate in the coming months. And it least they didn't do another naff concept album!

That's the way is a song that could, and maybe should, be a pointer to future directions. It's got some variety and drive and pop sensibilities but without the keening Embrace vocals they love so much (and are maybe overdoing).

Monday, October 29, 2012

Cryin' and pleadin' won't do no good (Billy Boy Arnold)

I made a compilation of blues songs for Keegan recently and it occurred to me that I write a lot about pop and rock genres and jazz from time to time but seldom about the blues. And when I do venture into the blues it's usually from a white perspective: Alvin Lee; Rory Gallagher; Eric Clapton; Paul Jones, Hot Tuna and so on.

I am not sure why I haven't written more about blues favourites such as Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon, Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Muddy Waters. I love their stuff and I love the blues!

Here's the track listing on my CD blues primer for Keegan:

Evil Gal blues – Albinia Jones
Chicago breakdown – Big Maceo
I wish you would – Billy Boy Arnold
Shake your moneymaker – Elmore James
Dust my blues – Elmore James
You don't have to go – Jimmy Reed
Sittin' here thinkin' – John Lee Hooker
Mannish Boy – Junior Wells/ Muddy Waters
Young man blues – Mose Allison
Rollin' stone – Muddy Waters
Got my mojo working – Muddy Waters
That's alright – Jimmy Rodgers
Milk cow blues – Sleepy John Estes
I'm a king bee – Slim Harpo
Good morning little schoolgirl – Sonny Boy Williamson
Whoopin' the blues – Sonny Terry
Good morning blues – Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
The midnight special - Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee
Smokestack lightning – The Yardbirds
How many more years – Howlin' Wolf
Moanin' at midnight – Howlin' Wolf
I'm ready – Muddy Waters
I was trying to cover as many bases as I could in roughly an hour and I think I got the balance pretty right - Chicago blues, boogie woogie, harp and guitar, white (Yardbirds and Allison), folk blues, shouters, women blues singers,  dirty blues, slow blues, country blues, electric, urban blues.
It's not supposed to be comprehensive at all (I figured Keegan had heard Robert Johnson for instance) and, of course, there are many omissions and it does show my bias towards Waters/Wolf/Sonny and Brownie.
My love of the blues began properly after I watched Sonny and Brownie playing at the Nambassa music festival (late seventies I think). I remember the moment well because I was standing about ten feet from the stage with not many other people around me.
Someone led Sonny on to the stage, they settled down on their seats and Brownie started playing his guitar and tapping his foot. I watched in awe. 
It was one of those epiphanies I have had from time to time as I listened and watched and grooved.
Obviously I am not alone in letting the blues strike it's chord in my soul. For some reason I never tire of the form, or get depressed when I hear it. In fact I find the tales inherent in the blues very life affirming in a Grapes Of Wrath kind of way. Hardships are overcome and have been sung about in a cathartic way since the genre began in the American south's slave plantations.
It's true that I came to many of these songs from white blues inspired acts like Hot Tuna.
Billy Boy Arnold's I Wish You Would is a case in point.
I first heard it on Hot Tuna's Hoppkov album and then they did a stonking live version on their live double - Double Dose.
I hadn't heard of Billy Boy Arnold until that point. I'm sure Jorma and Jack from Hot Tuna would be thrilled to know that they made Arnold's version accessible via their own, very different treatment.

Friday, October 26, 2012

I haul you in a sea of silence (Rain Tree Crow)

Moods.  Music and mood sometimes match perfectly in a synergistic way.

Today is Saturday (I know it says Friday in the post title bar - I have no idea why it does, but trust me - it's Saturday). A beautiful sunny day. Jacky and I have just returned from a long walk into the shops at Oneroa to get an engagement card for Samantha and Jesse. We are now back home, Jacky's having a nap and I have Rain Tree Crow (by Rain Tree Crow) playing on the p-pod dock.

It's a perfect match - languid, spacious, thoughtful, atmospheric, ambient music for a languid, sunny afternoon on Waiheke Island. 

Rain Tree Crow (released 1991) is really Japan's last album before David Sylvian closed up shop and went solo, so it's got elements of Japan style pop but leans towards a proggy ambient sound scape. Actually, I couldn't help thinking about Porcupine Tree while I listened to it. Richard Barbieri is common to both endeavours after all and Steven Wilson's vocals could easily be substituted for Sylvian's.

Blackwater was the album's only single.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Forget the past, present tense works and lasts (Pantera)

Jade asked me an interesting question recently. I mentioned that I didn't feel in the mood to buy a CD yesterday when I went to JB Hi-Fi at St Lukes with Keegan.

She asked, "Do you need to be in the mood to buy music?" My initial thought was 'no' but my reaction yesterday was 'yes'.

Normally I can go into a store like JB Hi-Fi and latch onto at least 3 or 4 CDs I really want to buy but not so yesterday for some reason.

I thought about these four new albums but didn't end up with any:

The Datsuns - Death Rattle Boogie

Evermore - Follow The Sun

ZZ Top - La Futura

Diana Krall - Glad Rag Doll
The main problem with the first three is that their last albums were disappointing. The Datsuns have gone away from their first album sound more and more with each album they've released. Evermore put out a clunker last time out which I really didn't like and ZZ Top did the unthinkable with XXX - released a ho hum album.

Diana Krall's Glad Rag Doll is an album I feel obligated to buy for my father's sake. Problem is the album isn't a jazz one and dad wouldn't have liked it much I suspect (who knows - he loved Diana Krall!).

The reviews and youtube videos above have helped me a bit. The Evermore single (also called Follow The Sun) starts out okay but is not their usual hook laden pop confection. The Datsuns have a tad more energy this time out and seem to have returned to things that made The Datsuns special in the first place. The ZZs are in awesome form with Billy's dirty as guitar sound well to the foreground and the video is brilliant as well. Less is more!

So - next time on the mainland I may have to get in the mood and pick up the Datsuns and ZZ Top albums!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Boom boom - out go the lights (The Blues Band)

Paul Jones (real name Paul Pond) has a phenomenal blues voice. So good that Keef and Brian Jones offered him the job of lead singer in the early Rolling Stones. He turned them down so they had to settle for ole rubber lips instead.

Mr Jones is in the tie

I was a young pup working with Roger Marbeck when I first became aware of his fantastic voice. One day the EMI rep came in and raved about The Blues Band album - Official Blues Band Bootleg Album, He loved it and when we played it on the shop's stereo (we're talking records here) so did we.

The promo liner notes mentioned his discography and I suddenly realised that his voice was the one I'd loved on some great Manfred Mann hits.

Those early Manfred Mann singles are as  tight as a drum instrumentally and then Paul Jones starts singing and we're in a different place.

He's still active as The Blues Band are still going strong with the same original line up!

Here's my Paul Jones favourites - some of his Manfred Mann, Blues Band and solo moments:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

You made us feel like we could fly (Queen)

Radio Wozza is an amazing station. It mixes genres and decades into a wonderful eclectic mix of magical music moments. Mmmmmmmm. I love it.

Radio Wozza doesn't really exist as a broadcasting unit, of course, because I'm usually the only one who gets to hear it (if you're lucky enough to live with me you'll catch glimpses of it).

Radio Wozza beams out of the p-pod whenever I'm away from my collection. The play list comes from the 23,000 songs it holds (how amazing is that and there is still room on it for more).

Radio Wozza is the audio version of Mojo Magazine - a head spinning, psychedelic, gush of wonderful noise.

Jacky and I are currently staying on Waiheke Island with her dad. I'm away from my collection so I've set up the p-pod dock in the lounge so that I can listen to music while I read. All was going fine until Well by Captain Beefheart came on Radio Wozza.

Well did that cause a ruckus as both Jacky and Brian stopped their conversation and honed in on me - what the hell is that???

It's singing, I said.

That's not singing, said they.

Yes it is, said I.

This kind of intellectual riposte continued for some time but neither side gave ground. You can imagine their reaction when I said it was by Captain Beefheart. That just confirmed things for them (the name - they don't know who Captain Beefheart was)

For my money Captain Beefheart is a great great singer. Mmmm - maybe an acquired taste I admit but Well is one of his most accessible songs - certainly on Trout Mask Replica. You be the judge!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My word's but a whisper (Jethro Tull)

Thick As A Brick 2 was a CD that I had to own but I was also nervous approaching it.
Like millions of others, I love Thick As A Brick - the 1972 album with the song split over two sides of vinyl. It is definitely the Tull album I play most often (Benefit and Aqualung come in second equal). I don't listen to it as a parody of a concept album, instead I always get lost in the word play and the wonderful music.
My worry with TAAB 2 was that it wouldn't live up to expectations, but Ian Anderson has successfully avoided that in cunning ways.
  • He doesn't try to produce another long song to compete with the original.
  • The sound he creates is identical to Jethro Tull of the early seventies, Aqualung and TAAB, era. It's so uncanny I had to read the liner notes to make sure Barriemore Barlow, Jeffery Hammond-Hammond and Martin Barre aren't on it. They are not.
  • He starts and ends the album with a musical motif lifted from the original before soaring off in new directions, so there is a continuity of sorts between the two albums.
  • The story of whatever happened to the central character of the original album allows enough scope for adventure and invention.
Quite Frankly I'm amazed. I read an article in Prog Magazine about it which was reassuring but I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't heard it.
Ian Anderson in unlikely prog epic remake in 2012. Who would have thought it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I'm ready, ready as anybody can be (Muddy Waters)

Yes I'm ready!

I'm heading away from my collection again for a lengthy period (a year at least) so I've loaded up the purdy-pod with all the stuff brought back from the years spent in the Middle East. As this involved a few trips to the UK as well (Fopp) it meant a lot of stuff.

This has joined the music I put on this amazing device before heading overseas in 2009 so that there are now over 22,000 songs on the thing.

I haven't downloaded a song from the internet in my life so these songs have all come from my CD collection. Sadly my records remain outside the p-pod at this point. I'm wishing I'd bought the record to CD converter I spied at the Virgin Mega Sore at the Dubai Mall before we came home but I had no plans to leave my collection so soon and besides, I'm sure I'll be able to find something similar in China.

Jade thinks I'm mad having so much stuff on the ipod but it's a huge comfort to knowing that I can play The Stooges No Fun, George Harrison's Brainwashed or Dream Evil's Dragonslayer if the mood should take me.

Having that many songs also makes the shuffle mode a continual exercise in discovery of the weird corners of my collection.

Like Blue Oyster Cult's great Burnin' For You frinstance (you have the studio version or a stormin' live from 1981 version to choose from).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

I wish I was an Apple, a-hanging on a tree (Ricky Nelson)

I came across a Ricky Nelson double CD compilation that I just had to buy this week. It's a weird one -some of the big hits are on it but so is Ricky's first album in its entirety and his first single released in 1957 (a fantastic year!).

A Teenager's Romance was backed by his version of the Fats Domino song I'm Walkin' and it set the template for some great fifties and sixties music by Ricky.

Between 1957 and 1962 Ricky had an amazing 30 Top 40 hits. In 1959  he helped out John Wayne, Dean Martin and Walter Brennan in the Howard Hawks' western classic Rio Bravo. I just love this cosy singalong with Deno and Walter. Thankfully The Duke stays silent. A man's gotta know his limitations.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A cloudburst doesn't last all day (Hari Georgeson)

I've been catching up on my reading of late. We sent home 22 boxes of stuff from the Middle East and after an eternity (five months) they finally arrived at Wozza's place in August. A few of the boxes contained my stockpiled CDs, DVDs, and books. It was like Christmas at our place!

A lot of the books I had put on the shelf in Al Ain and knew I'd read them when I got home - mainly music books, and mainly large format Beatles related coffee table epics bought at the Dubai Mall.

So far I've made my way through May Pang's Instamatic Lennon - catchy name for her (slight) photograph book; Bob Gruen's John Lennon - The New York Years; Julian Lennon's Beatle's Memorabilia; Chris O'Dell's opportunistic Miss O'Dell; and Fab Four Faq.

The Bob Gruen collection of photos and text is the best of that bunch. Julian's collection of Beatles memorabilia is pretty slight - mainly a collection of Gold Records. It looks good though.

I'm currently working my way through Fab Four Faq 2.0 which concerns the 1970-80 decade of Beatle solo doings, before launching into Olivia Harrison's huge book called George Harrison - Living In The Material World.

The Fab Four Faq 2.0 is a better book than the first volume as it concerns itself with stuff that most Beatle books neglect - the 'what happened next?' stuff of the seventies which is where I really started to collect and appreciate the solo efforts and which, in turn, led me back into the Beatles music.

Ringo's solo efforts are fascinating to consider. I own every single one - that's also fascinating to consider (I also continue to collect every Yoko album). I eventually got to the point where I just had to keep on having them (knowing what I was in for) but it didn't start out that way.

I began with Ringo in 1973 and loved it instantly. Goodnight Vienna and Ringo's Rotogravure also had substantial merits that kept me hooked. From there I backtracked eventually to his first two false starts Sentimental Journey and Beaucoups of Blues. It's clear why Ringo considers his solo career starts with Ringo. After Ringo I've collected every album on its release. Bad Boy severely tested my resolve but I persevered.

His latest album is called Ringo 2012. Smart guy tapping into that feel good Brit feeling that's been so prevalent this year. It's not bad (nothing will ever plumb the depths of Bad Boy) but it's hardly essential.

And yet - when a random track came up on my ipod shuffle the other day it stood out in an unexpectedly pleasant way. And that cheered me up no end. I was made up that the still lovable Ringo is still putting out albums that contain songs that can do that to me.

Cheers Ritchie!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

People are people, whatever they eat for breakfast (Ray Columbus)

Ray Columbus! Probably a name not very well known outside of Australasia but, in Nu Zild, in particular, it is a name that conjures up instant images (and lyrics!).

Ray has been an entertainer in NZ for five decades. He's had an amazing career, even if you don't like his stuff much.

For people of my generation he's the self-proclaimed Modfather (She's A Mod with his group The Invaders), the perennial family entertainer on musical TV shows of the sixties and seventies C'Mon, Happen Inn and That's Country, and in later years the knowledgeable manager of the brilliant Zed.

I picked up his autobiography, The Modfather, at the Waipukurau library while I was waiting for Jacky to finish some shopping. After flicking through it I borrowed it and haven't put in down in three days!

It's excellent! He writes as he has lived his life - with sparkles, breathless short sentences and (mostly) endearing hey-look-at-me bravado. Talent smellent - he dreamed it (Elvis, Jerry Lee, Buddy, Roy etc) and then made it happen through force of will. Failure smailure - he never entertained the idea.
I've never been a big fan but I did once own his greatest hits album for three reasons: She's A Mod, Till We Kissed and People Are People. Three songs that are firmly lodged into my DNA.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yeah, don't ya hear the wind blowing mmmmmhmmmm Stoned Love (The Supremes)

They were well named weren't they? One listen to You Can't Hurry Love and how can you not be transported back to the wonderful sixties.

When a song comes on the p-pod shuffle, I sometimes need to get up and find out who it is (even though everything on the p-pod comes from my own collection). When Stoned Love came on this morning I had no such need. Clearly a Motown song (that drum/tambourine combo alone instantly recalls a few hundred other Motown songs), clearly a Supremes' song, clearly a sixties song.

Stoned Love comes from 1970 but reeks of the sixties.

 In so many ways the song  and its history (the groups last top ten hit in America) sums up that decade as well as anything does.

 The whole story of the song is suitably barking mad:
  • unusually, the lead vocal is NOT sung by Diana Ross (take a bow Jean Terrell)
  • the actual name of the song was NOT Stoned Love - it was Stone Love (listen carefully to the song) but mislabelled on release, unfortunately giving the song unwarranted drug connotations
  • there are over 30 musicians on the song PLUS the Funk Brothers (Motown's legendary house band)
  • as a plea for universal love and peace it is unusual subject matter for The Supremes
  • the song appears in the 1994 movie Forrest Gump as a cipher to the sixties
  • the song was written by Kenny Thomas but his writing credit is listed as "Yennek Samoht"; his name spelled backwards (with an extra "e" to aid pronunciation) 
Like I said - barking mad.

The song itself is fabulous. Those harmonies as the Supremes sing the words 'Stone Love' could only have ever come from that combination of voices (there are strong echoes of Diana Ross in the vocal delivery even though she was not on it).


Sunday, July 29, 2012

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knees (Robert Johnson)

I recently made my way through the Eric Clapton autobiography and it was a pretty run of the mill experience. Great guitarists are seldom great writers (Keef's Life is the outstanding exception) and sho nuff 'Slowhand' is about right.

Nevertheless there are some good chapters amid the drugs and booze romp - I liked reading the John Mayall and Cream chapters. I'm so familiar with the George, Pattie, EC triangle that I could have written those chapters myself.

The bits I was most keen to read - the Lennon/Ono connections - are the most disappointing. Just gloss. If he was so wary of Lennon why did he play with lennon's Plastic Ono Band so much?? Nothing is revealed.

And it did make me go back to the Beano Bluesbreaker's music and Cream.

As time goes by Cream's version of Crossroads at the  Royal Albert Hall farewell concert becomes more and more impressive. Surely Jack Bruce must be taking the piss when he acknowledges Eric Clapton - for vocals!!

Cross Road Blues was first recorded and released on 78rpm by blues titan Robert Johnson in 1936.

The lyrics explain the narrator's failed attempts to hitch a ride from an intersection as night approaches, and somehow this scenario has frequently been linked to stories of Johnson selling his soul to the devil for the ability to play music (nothing in the actual lyrics indicates this). 

Some writers state that the song refers to the common fear felt by blacks who were discovered out alone after dark; that Johnson was likely singing about the desperation of finding his way home from an unfamiliar place as quickly as possible because of a fear of lynching, in addition, the lyrics could be an allusion to the curfews that were then imposed on blacks in the South. The imagery of the singer falling to his knees and the mention of his failure to find a "sweet woman" suggests that the song is also about something a bit more basic. 

It has been covered by a huge number of bands over the years but two versions stand out for me. Cream takes the song and just makes it their own with some outstanding individual playing, while John Mayer doesn't try to compete with the old versions and goes for a fresh new approach.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Somebody spoke and I went into a dream (The Fabs)

Dear Mojo

Please forgive the tardiness (Nu Zild is still an awful long way from mother England it seems when it comes to magazine deliveries) but I just had to write, having read the book (issue 224) and listened to the cover mount Yellow Submarine Resurfaces CD. Like hordes of yer readers I am a Beatles compulsive/obsessive and I found my Mojo early on (issue 24 appropriately enough).

Now, I normally approach Beatle covers compilations with the overwhelming feeling that they will never beat the originals so why bother but now you've rocked that assumption.

I never thought that the scary, other worldly, creepy menace of Harrison's Long Long Long (mmm I know it's a love song) could be bettered but Howe Gelb has done it. Oh. My. Lennon. His version of Eleanor Rigby seriously sent shivers down my spine! Definitely a case of 'somebody spoke and I went into a dream'. It turned me on man!

Listen not to the predictable naysayers who will surely write and whinge about Beatles on the cover again (or have they admitted defeat). More power to you and Howe!

Love and peace etc.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Honey - the way you play guitar makes me feel so masochistic (Patti Smith)

Time for Part Two in my top twenty favourite guitarists and crunch time for Slowhand – will he make the cut?
From my first cut list of 65 ace guitarists we have 55 left in the running:
Jimmy Page; Leslie West; Alvin Lee; Chuck Berry; Keith Richards; Lenny Kaye; Muddy Waters; Stephen Stills; Pete Townshend; Roger McGuinn; David Gilmour; James Burton; Peter Green; Joni Mitchell; Ernie Isley; Richard Lloyd; Joe Satriani; Eddie Van Halen; The Edge; Angus Young; Johnny Marr; John Squire; Dicky Betts and Duane Allman; Pat Travers; Robby Krieger; Nick Drake; Jorma Kaukonen; Jerry Garcia; John Fogerty; Martin Barre; Ted Nugent; Chris Squire; Robin Trower; Dave Hill; Bill Frisell; George Benson; John Petrucci; Tom Morello; Andy Powell and Ted Turner; Billy Corgan; Adam Jones; Steven Wilson; Mikael Akerfeldt: Jesse Cook; John Mayer; Ron Wood; Stuart Adamson; Stone Gossard and Mike McCready; Lowell George; Billy Gibbons; Matthew Sweet; and Eric Clapton.
11 Jimmy Page has a unique sound. He is responsible for some of the best blues rock guitar ever produced and his acoustic guitar is immediately recognisable as well. Black Dog on the fourth album is my favourite Zeppelin song. I love this hurdy gurdy guitar sound that he also employs on Misty Mountain Hop and Four Sticks from the same album.
12 I never get tired of listening to Alvin Lee. I have raved about his playing in the blog a few times already. Again it's hard to pick just one song but his playing on One Of These Days from A Space In Time and especially on Recorded Live is outstanding. His bluesy guitar is way under-rated in my opinion.
13 Keith Richards (Keef) is the human riff and the coolest man (somehow) still alive from the sixties. He's built up a massive body of work but the early seventies Stones one two punch of Sticky Fingers and Exile are definitely HIS Stones albums. You want just one song? Wild Horses!
14 Running close to Keef for coolest man status is Dave Gilmour. Check out that photo! How cool is he?? Pink Floyd without Dave doesn't bare thinking about.  Dave, for me, IS the Pink Floyd sound.  The Meddle album is drenched in Gilmour guitars.
15 Leslie West has been featured on the blog recently with his trademark thickly textured sound.  Mountain's best of CD is a great place to start. Every song is a winner.
16 Stephen Stills is freakishly talented. He is a lot like many of my favourite guitarists in that he plays fantastic acoustic guitar, sings and also excels on electric guitar! These guys are really talented (where are the women? Only Joni makes my rough list I'm afraid) and his guitar prowess alongside his occasional guitar foil Neil Young is an additional pleasure. Can't go past that first Crosby Stills Nash album with the great Suite: Judy Blues Eyes setting out his stall so wonderfully.
17 Joe Satriani is a genius. The vast majority of his material is instrumental which immediately focuses all attention on the lead instrument – his guitar. He is so adventurous and inventive - I have a lot of his music and no two songs are the same. Remarkable. Having said that, it is work with Chickenfoot (Sammy Hagar on vocals) that is equally as wondrous.
18 Jorma Kaukonen is like Stills – an immediately recognisable guitarist on acoustic and electric forms and a great vocalist. Like Ritchie Blackmore, Jorma has excelled in two bands – Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna. Like Rory it's his brilliant guitar work on a live double (Double Dose) that I come back to again and again.
19 Eric Clapton. Yes – he made it, just. I will post next time on the Cream version of Crossroads. Suffice to say here that he makes it for his early work with John Mayall, Cream, and Derek and The Dominos rather than anything post 1971.   
20 I briefly toyed with the idea of putting John Mayer higher up in the list but (and I realize it's stooped to regard this as a competition but hey – it's fun to speculate) better than Clapton? Regardless of all that he's a major talent with so much going for him – great voice, fantastic acoustic style and an already formed electric style of his own (echoes of Clapton, Hendrix, and the blues greats in there for sure). Best place to start is one of the live albums although you need to ignore the between song banter which is NOT his strong suit.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

I look at the world and I notice it's turning while my guitar gently weeps (The Beatles)

I recently blogged about the dire Eric Clapton autobiography on my Wozza's Place blog (http://www.wozzasplace.blogspot.com/) and mentioned that EC would probably make my top 20 guitarist list so I thought I'd put that to the test here.

So right off the bat I have to include on my rough list before getting down to 20:
George Harrison and John Lennon; Hendrix, of course; Jimmy Page; Leslie West; Alvin Lee; Chuck Berry; Keith Richards; Lenny Kaye; Muddy Waters; Neil Young and Stephen Stills; Pete Townshend; Roger McGuinn; David Gilmour; James Burton; Frank Zappa; Peter Green; Carlos Santana; Tony Iommi; Ritchie Blackmore; Joni Mitchell; Ry Cooder; Ernie Isley; Richard Lloyd; Joe Satriani; Eddie Van Halen; The Edge; Angus Young; Johnny Marr; John Squire; Dicky Betts and Duane Allman; Pat Travers; Rory Gallagher; Robby Krieger; Nick Drake; Jorma Kaukonen; Jerry Garcia; John Fogerty; Martin Barre; Ted Nugent; Chris Squire; Robin Trower; Dave Hill; Bill Frisell; George Benson; John Petrucci; Tom Morello; Andy Powell and Ted Turner; Billy Corgan; Adam Jones; Steven Wilson; Mikael Akerfeldt: Jesse Cook; John Mayer; Ron Wood; Stuart Adamson; Stone Gossard and Mike McCready; Lowell George; Billy Gibbons; Matthew Sweet.

That'll do. The most glaring omission is probably Jeff Beck but I only really like some stuff he did with The Yardbirds and I honestly can't add him to the list of my favourites based on a couple of songs.

So how many is that? 64 great guitarists, 65 when EC is included.

Hmm - how to judge them and leave out 45 of them?

Inventiveness, legacy, impact, originality, depth and breadth.

The Top Ten first of all (11 to 20 in the next post).

Obviously Jimi Hendrix is in a category all of his own and is the first name on the team sheet. A freak who like Miles Davis (Trumpet) and John Coltrane (Sax) single-handedly revolutionised his instrument. So many outstanding songs but I can't go past Voodoo Chile (both single and LP versions).

2 and 3 George Harrison and John Lennon. Yes I'm a Beatles/Lennon obsessive but they were also amazingly inventive guitarists. Best George moments come on Revolver and John's sublime visceral guitar on the Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band's Why has to be heard to be believed.

4 Rory Gallagher. I've raved about Rory from time to time in the blog. Best moments come on the Irish Tour '74 album and Cradle Rock in particular.

Tony Iommi defined a whole genre of metal guitar, sludge rock, stoner rock - whatever you want to call it. So many great riffs but War Pigs is my pick.

Ritchie Blackmore is so great he sustained a career beyond Deep Purple into Rainbow. Tie between Rainbow Rising and Machine Head as his best work. P.S. Rest in peace Jon Lord who died this week. His organ guitar duels with Ritchie are part of the signature Deep Purple sound we all love so much.

7 Carlos Santana makes the earth move. Somehow he tapped into chords and sustain that no one else has.

8 Ry Cooder - Jesus On The Mainline contains simply the best slide guitar playing...ever!

9 Neil Young has done it all and seems to be able to play any style he wants - rockabilly, punk, folk, country, blues, and inspired rock guitar are all within his grasp. It's hard to blow past Hurricane but for me the lather he whips up on Southern Man (Journey From The Past) is amazingly succinct - even when he stretches out!

10 Frank Zappa and his Hot Rats album was revolutionary - like a lot of his music, but he was no one trick rock fusion guitarist. No pigeon holes for Frank. Try Watermelon in Easter Hay from the Joe's Garage triple and be prepared to be impressed.

So far - no EC. Will he make the top 20?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Hear my thunder (West Bruce & Laing)

I was listening to a multi CD set of 1970s Rock's finest moment type things that you find on the supermarket shelves these days (I'm a sucker for these things) and it struck me how lucky I was to live through the early seventies and listen at first hand to things like Frankenstein (Edgar Winter Group), Radar Love (Golden Earring), Paranoid (Black Sabbath) and so on. This was great great music and a fantastic time to start being a music junkie.

Got me thinking about one of my favourites that has now probably attained secret treasure status.

West, Bruce and Laing were a blues-rock power trio super-group consisting of Leslie West (guitar and vocals), Jack Bruce (bass, harp, keyboards and vocals) and Corky Laing (drums and vocals).

The trio formed in early 1972. West and Laing's previous band was the great Mountain and Bruce, of course, came via Cream.

They toured extensively and released two studio albums, 1972's Why Dontcha and 1973's Whatever Turns You On. They disbanded shortly before the release of their live album Live 'n' Kickin' in 1974.

It's the first one that does it for me. Why Dontcha. No question mark required.

My copy is an Australian one. My family and I went on an Australian holiday in 1973 and I had a shopping list of albums to buy which included: Houses Of The Holy (Led Zeppelin); Made In Japan (Deep Purple); Why Dontcha (West, Bruce & Laing).

When I got back home I was really disappointed with the latest Led Zep opus but Why Dontcha was seldom removed from the turntable.

It's a case of delivering on expectations. Leslie West plays guitar like he's chipping away at a mountain of granite with a sledgehammer, Jack Bruce is an amazingly distinctive and innovative bassist and Corky...well he plays drums.

It really is a great album, where the individuals combine into a stunning band performance.

There are some great rock songs on the album (Why Dontcha and The Doctor are stand outs); some blues showcases for Jack (a la Cream), most notably on the harp fest that is Turn Me Over (think Rollin and Tumblin), a rolling piano lead workout Shake Ma Thing (Rollin Jack), the slowish blues of Third Degree; some wonderfully soaring vocals by Jack (Out Into The Fields), an acoustic guitar and piano driven ballad with more of those soaring vocal harmonies and some great dobro picking by West (While You Sleep) and then there is the classic heavy guitar wig out for Leslie West - Love Is Worth The Blues.