Friday, January 13, 2012

#516: All-Brit Music Fest!

2 celebrate the new CD player working just fine, here's a ton of almost-all-new-2-me music, all from the British Isles, & from all diffrent time periods....

Florence + the Machine -- Only if for a Night, Shake it Out.

Madness -- One Step Beyond, My Girl, Night Boat to Cairo, Baggy Trousers, Madness, The Prince, Embarrassment, Return of the Las Palmas 7, House of Fun.
Wire -- 12XU, It's So Obvious, Mr. Suit, Three Girl Rhumba, Ex Lion Tamer, Lowdown, Straight Lines, 106 Beats That, Strange, Reuters, Field Day for the Sundays, Champs, Feeling Called Love, I Am the Fly, Dot Dash, Practise Makes Perfect, French Film Blurred.
Gang of Four -- Ether, Natural's Not in It, Not Great Men, Damaged Goods, Return the Gift, Guns Before Butter, I Found That Essence Rare, Glass, Contract, At Home He's a Tourist.
Incredible String Band -- October Song, The Tree, Chinese White, First Girl I Loved.
Nick Drake -- Cello Song, PINK MOON album: Pink Moon, Place to Be, Road, Which Will, Horn, Things Behind the Sun, Know, Parasite, Free Ride, Harvest Breed, From the Morning.
Strawbs -- Ghosts, The Battle.

Florence's 2 trax R from the recent CEREMONIALS, in case you missed me mentioning it a couple dozen times by now.
I'd heard a handful of trax by Madness back in my record store daze, but hearing "One Step Beyond" again made me wonder why I couldn't hear them BETTER way back then. Always loved "Embarrassment" & "Our House," but the rest of their stuff is lite & bouncy & silly, & they had a great sax player. My only complaint upon hearing "Embarrassment" again is that I thot it had a bigger hook. "Los Palmas 7" is a pleasant but kinda pointless instrumental. "Night Boat to Cairo" has some especially good sax sounds. "House of Fun" has some great lyrics. These guys were just a lot of bouncy fun. How come I couldn't hear them back in 1980? Oh, I remember -- I was still in my Prog Phase. All from THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION.
Wire -- Wow, Punk Rock! Very abrupt, short songs, deceptively simple-sounding. "Ex Lion Tamer" has some more lyrical guitar sounds & even backing vocals! & it breaks the 2-minute barrier! "Lowdown" breaks 2-1/2 mins! "Straight Lines" adds some clanking keyboards -- I think. "Strange"'s droning guitars push it 2 almost 4 mins! (This is how Wire got 21 songs on their debut album, PINK FLAG, way back in '77.) "Reuters" is hypnotic, & the lyrics R pretty brutal; not sure about that ending, tho.... "Field Day for the Sundays" possibly sets a record at about 15 seconds ... unless there was something shorter & I missed it. "Dot Dash" has really good rhythmic vocals. "Practise Makes Perfect" goes beyond annoying & in2 funny, with its screeching vocals followed by echoing laffter....
Not sure about this stuff Xactly, but it's obvious they were Up To Something. I'll B returning 2 this. All from their ON RETURNING best-of.
Gang of Four -- Just as stark as Wire, very clean-sounding, no feedback or show-offy gtr, but also very flat ... so their anger showed thru more clearly, I imagine. Xcellent rhythmic drumming from Hugo Burnham. Andy Gill's scratchy gtr was also pretty unique. What Wire mighta turned in2 if their songs had bn longer, I'd imagine. Very political -- the politics of everyday life. All from ENTERTAINMENT!
I was familiar with the loonies in the Incredible String Band -- their 1968 album THE HANGMAN'S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTER is spooky & funny Olde British Folk, very rustic sounding in places, but with a ton of hippy spaciness & comedy. But I'd never heard much else of their vast output Xcept 4 the opening section of the full-side "Be Glad for the Song Has No Ending" -- a title that sez a lot about this band.
The 1st 2 songs here R from their very 1st album, 1966. "The Tree" features songwriter Mike Heron's very Bob Dylan-ish vocals. "Chinese White" is carried by what sounds like a very screechy violin. "First Girl I Loved" is way more like it -- nice acoustic gtr & memorable choruses, & the lyrics R charming. I'll B investigating these guys a lot more. All from BEST OF 1966-1970.
Nick Drake's "Cello Song" is 4 mins of gorgeous cosmic bliss, from FIVE LEAVES LEFT & the WAY TO BLUE best-of.
"Pink Moon" is 2 mins of gorgeous existential terror. It & all that follow R from Nick's last album, 1972's PINK MOON -- which is regarded by some as the closest thing 2 a suicide note. Tho I hadn't planned on playing the whole thing -- & still vastly prefer Drake's gorgeous BRYTER LAYTER, 1 of the great albums of all time -- PINK MOON is soothing & lulling, & Drake's gtr-playing & vocals R beautiful.
However, it gets a bit more depressing as it goes on. "Things Behind the Sun" sounds like a profoundly sad self-portrait, especially the last verse. Several of the songs sound like very knowing self-portraits, especially "Parasite." But coming after all this stark & dark stuff, the closing "From the Morning" sounds even more uplifting -- almost optimistic. But probly not what I should B playing in the middle of a cold, dark winter.
The folk-proggy Strawbs' "Ghosts" features nice keyboards & gtr, & lotsa melodrama. As always with them, this is very visual, cinematic music. You see the videos 4 the songs in your head. "The Battle" is an early, folky track, but with keybs, strings & brass added 2 increase the impact. The song's based on a chess/war metaphor. Again, very visual -- but neither R up there with "Down by the Sea," "Where is This Dream of Your Youth?" & "Hero and Heroine" among the band's very best work. Both from the HALCYON DAYS best-of.
More soon!

1 comment:

R S Crabb said...

Some Wire Thoughts for ya...

Pink Flag is their punk album but I think beginning with Chairs Missing and 154 they strayed more into art rock territory. Since Pink Flag was hard to find, I ended up getting 154 and wondering WTF is this garbage. Then actually begin to love the album as their best moments. Certainly they have a two minute rave up with 2 people in a room and then go new wave with the 15th or Blessed State. The most trying is A Touching Display with goes on close to 7 minutes with kinda bizarre Black Sabbath riff that goes on forever and the paranoid Indirect Enquires to which Colin Newman screams You been defaced over and over. Some people love it, some hate it.

Document and eyewitness is arty farty nonsense from their last concert and almost destroys their reputation. Then they broke up and reform in 1986 with The Ideal Copy. A better introduction would be The A List which comprises the best moments of their late 80s period. The Drill is a annoying one hour album of different takes and mixes of that song, not worth your time nor mine. They gotten back together last decade to make the back to basics punk with Send but haven't heard much of their later stuff although their last album was kinda boring. ;)