Trying something new with a Spotify Playlist to get your weekend off to a good start. I hope you can access the list; feel free to critique (as you can also see I have had some free time).
Diamonds are a girl’s best friend this week as we’re all set for your songs about precious stones and jewellery. I’m not quite sure what those chandeliers are all about in the video, but they look very impressive. Anyway, down to it: if you have an earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to firstname.lastname@example.org, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be songs about streets, roads, and highways. Many thanks to all contributors.
Automatic Man – My Pearl – severin: A late seventies John Peel favourite. As many styles of music as they can blend into a three minute pop song. A bit of country, soul, prog, rock jazz and, oh lots of other things probably. Not literally about a pearl.
Johnny Cash – Old Chunk of Coal – Ravi Raman: Cash lending his inimitable depth to this cover of Billy Joe Shaver’s born again anthem.
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds – Plain Gold Ring – tincanman: Kitty White sang this in the mid-50’s with that faux melancholy in favour back in the day. No one listens to Brenda Lee, Connie Francis, Kay Starr, et al anymore – except, apparently, Nick. And there’s never faux anything with him.
Alice Cooper – Gutter Cat and the Jets – AlfieHisself: We are off up the coast for a break and are bound to end up at Whitby some time. It really does have the best fish and chips plus the steps to the Abbey and maybe a pirate boat. Goths of course, and Alice is the godfather, being the first with the eye shadow. And shops full of jewellery made of Whitby Jet. Not sure if it counts as precious, being sort of soft coal. But here on the Humber bank, they found a boat and dated it back to Stonehenge time. Then dug around and found settlements and blue jewellery that could only be from Switzerland. So when they were putting up them Welsh blue, our locals were sailing off to trade at the tip of the Rhine, Rotterdam now, and it’s been found that one of the things they took over there for a barter was the Whitby Jet. So precious enough. So one song from Alice, a folk tale from the West Side of Whitby.
John Martyn – Sapphire – AliM: From the album of the same name, can’t believe it was 1984. More pop/rock than acoustic.
St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Tears in the Diamond – glassarfemptee: Can white men do soul? They can if they are Paul Janeway, lamenting the pain of tying the knot.
Sarah Blasko – An Oyster, A Pearl – tincanman: A figurative gem, obs. I find it oddly charming for some reason. (I’ve just learned Blasko, Sally (New Buffalo) Seltmann and Holly Throsby have revived Seeker Lover Keeper, who went platinum at home in Australia with their self-titled debut in 2010. The follow-up, Wild Seeds, came out last month. I haven’t listened yet).
Laura Mvula – Diamonds – severin: A good one to listen to when you need some soothing balm. Which quite a few of us do right now. A beautiful voice telling you that the sky may be brighter somewhere else but you’ve got diamonds in your heart.
King Crimson – Cirkus – AlfieHisself: There’s the Crimson making a hell of a racket, but with Mel Collins blowing things, always nice. And it has diamond in the opening line of Cirkus .. this being a recent live version with three drummers thrashing about.
Mercury Rev – Diamonds – glassarfemptee: Mercury Rev two weeks in a row. Here they are with jewels from the natural world.
Lord Sitar – Emerald City – Ravi Raman: aka Big Jim Sullivan. Psychedelic pop that I should have suggested for the last RRSA topic – Influenced by Indian Music – but somehow forgot to.
Lieko Quintet – Amethyst – AliM: Young, Manchester-based group specialising in contemporary jazz, funk & groove, consisting of Alex Hill – Keyboard; James Girling – Electric Guitar (also an excellent classical guitarist); Matt Brown – Drums; Jamie Stockbridge – Saxophone and Alasdair Simpson – Bass Guitar. I saw them recently in Huddersfield, and jolly good they were, too.
The Orb – Shine on you Crazy Diamond – AlfieHisself: Then the Orb doing their take on Shine on You Crazy Diamond. No words – so you have to hum ‘remember when we were young, and shone like the sun, shine on …’ to yourself. Some funky samples and found sounds thrown in … all a bit modern.
Peggy Lee – Baubles, Bangles and Beads – Maggie B: Peggy Lee: wasn’t she just great?
This week’s topic may be a little early, but there is a definite autumnal nip in the air around these parts. Or it could just be the chill wind of change as we enter (or continue) the internecine war of words over the European Union. Whatever it is, these Autumn songs will take your mind off it for a while.
If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to email@example.com, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be precious stones, or jewellery. Many thanks to all contributors.
Sonny Rollins – Autumn Nocturne – Ravi Raman: A gem from a boxed set I picked up some time ago.
Neneh Cherry – Fallen Leaves – severin: An autumnal connection so long as you don’t look too closely at the lyric.
Mercury Rev – Autumn’s in the Air – AliM: “Pristine Chamber Pop”, according to The Guardian. Whatever it is, it’s rather charming.
Josh Ritter – Homecoming – tincanman: He lost his virginity on an autumn night just like this one, the air getting colder and the nights crisp. Most towns and schools in America have a homecoming every autumn and Josh loves making these sorts of things epic and Biblical.
Melissa Etheridge – The Late September Dogs (live version) – severin: From an album I bought some time ago and don’t play all the way through that often. This track’s a bit of an epic though. Not a great advert for Autumn mind. ”Come on, let it rain” rather than “mists and mellow fruitfulness”.
Yes – Turn of the Century – AlfieHisself: The word “autumn” pops up once. Like leaves we touched, we danced, we once knew the story, as autumn called and we both remembered all those many years ago. A song about a sculptor bringing his dead wife back to life, seems to be about the living just as much, remembering times shared and keeping that person alive in your thoughts. And nice piano and guitar. Goes on a bit of course.
Nankivell’s Optet – Colours in the Leaves – AliM: Hugh Nankivell, Graham Browning, Jim Pywell, Michael Massey, James Squire – unusual line-up from Huddersfield. Musical prowess includes bassoon, penny-whistle, viola, kora, flute and sax as well as guitar, bass, piano and vocals. Not sure if they are still together, I saw the Graham Browning Trio recently who were very good – but different. This is from their 2005 album: Bird, Leaf, Pear, Book.
X-Press 2 w/Kurt Wagner – Give It [Extended Club Mix] -shoegazer: Here comes the cool air, the light chill of the fall / Blowing from either direction / Blowing across the yard it’s crisp and it’s cool / Dogs like it, as they sit around in the sun …
Stephen Kellogg – Thanksgiving – tincanman: In America if you can’t make it home for both Thanksgiving in November and Christmas six weeks later, you go for Thanksgiving. The big family feast traditionally begins by going around the dinner table sharing in turn what you are thankful for this year. At 10 minutes long, the turkey will be cold before Stephen has finished his list.
Van Morrison – Autumn Song – Ravi Raman: One of a few songs he has sung on season. This album didn’t get too many fans excited though I like this song. (NB: It’s 10+ minutes long just in case anyone wants to skip Van The Man).
A far from arid selection this week, despite the effects of global warming. Here are your songs about deserts and wastelands – a very varied collection, too. If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .mp3, .m4a or a link to firstname.lastname@example.org, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be Autumn – yes I know we’ve had it before, but not for ages. Many thanks to all contributors.
U2 – In God’s Country – tincanman: From their defining album The Joshua Tree, which uses desert imagery to juxtapose how the world sees America with how it naively sees itself. The Joshua Tree is a national park in the California desert.
Songhoy Blues – Desert Melodie – AliM: Not to be confused with The Desert Song (“My Desert is waiting, dear, come there with me. I’m longing to teach you love’s sweet melody …” one of my mum’s sheet music collection).
Maher Shalal Hash Baz – What’s Your Business Here Elijah – shoegazer: Bible story from Japan.
Maria Muldaur – Midnight at the Oasis – glassarfemptee: Talking of camels, you apparently won’t need one when Maria Muldaur takes you for a ride …
White Rose Transmission – Desert Bones – severin: From the 1999 album 700 Miles of Desert. The second and final one that Adrian Borland made with them. He wrote this song but I think the voice is Carlo van Putten who co-founded the band with Adrian and continued it after his tragic death.
Radar – Caravane – glassarfemptee: The Sahara is the cradle of so much excellent music. And what conjures up the Sahara better than a caravan of camels on the skyline. I know nothing of Radar, though.
Mary Coughlan – Antarctica – severin: It’s a metaphor of course and I think that only part of Antarctica is desert anyway. But it’s a good song so off it goes.
Ian Tyson – Claude Dallas – tincanman: Set by the Devil’s wash and coyote hole in the wild Owyhee Range, out where rivers run and disappear and the mustang still is free.
Iris Dement – Wasteland of the Free – Ravi Raman: Over two decades and nothing much has changed. “Living in the wasteland of the free/ Where the poor have now become the enemy”.
Talking Heads – Nothing But Flowers – AlfieHisself: A song imagining the much predicted running out of oil, with industry closing and towns deserted. This was a Pizza Hut, now it is covered in daisies / If this is paradise, won’t somebody get me a lawn-mower.
Ronu Mazumdar – Desert Winds – Ravi Raman: A pop-ish track from this flautist maestro’s 2013 Magic Flute album. He plays the bansuri or the long flute and has a string of collaborations to his credit (as in this instance).
Genesis – Mad Man Moon – AliM: Apparently this was based loosely on John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. Whether or not this is true, I find it very evocative. … Forever caught in desert lands, one has to learn to disbelieve the sea.
Camel – Arubaluba – AlfieHisself: By the band Camel from an album called Mirage … so as deserty as you can get (but it’s really a live bonus from another album).
Zakir Hussain – Ladakh, The Ice Desert – Ravi Raman: A part of the Soundscapes series that covers Rivers, Mountains, Valleys, Seas and Deserts. Slow burner without any fancy, flashy work. Great album if you are into atmospheric stuff.
Johnny Cash – Cool Water – MaggieB: My dad used to sing this when he was getting ready to go to the pub. Funny though, he didn’t order water when he got there …
‘Faster than fairies, faster than witches, Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches … And here is a mill and there is a river: Each a glimpse and gone for ever!’ One of the first poems I ever learned, very evocative of journeys gone by and a good introduction to your songs about trains. I’ve never seen so many trains turn up on time on a Bank Holiday Monday!
If you have an Earworm you’d like to share, please send an .m4a, .mp3, a web link or even just an impassioned email to email@example.com, together with a few words about why you’ve chosen it. Next week’s theme will be Wastelands and Deserts. Not to be confused with pudding. Many thanks to all contributors.
Trains – youtube playlist (above) – goneforeign: You’ll probably get enough to make a 100 + playlist, I could probably do that from my blues collection. My computer is acting silly and not allowing me to extract cuts so I can’t send you anything but I do have some titles for a playlist.
Jimi Hendrix – Hear My Train A’Comin’ – Alfie Hisself: Hendrix at the BBC album has his version of both Catfish & Hoochie then his own Voodoo Chile which has its roots in both. Then Jimi did his own Train song .. Hear My Train a Comin’. There are wild long electric live versions, but I’ve linked in the shorter 12 string acoustic ( gentler on the ears).
Billy Bragg & Joe Henry – Hobo’s Lullaby (Woody Guthrie cover) – tincanman: In the spring of 2017 Bragg and Henry took the train from Chicago to Los Angeles, recording covers of American railroad standards in waiting rooms and train platforms along the way. The resulting album, Shine A Light, is really very good.
New York Dolls – Subway Train – AliM: Very Stones-y sounding track from their 1973 album, which includes lyrics from an American folk song with an interesting provenance, I’ve Been Workin’ on the Railroad. So doubly appropriate.
Lucinda Belle – Stop This Train – severin: Harp playing diva covers a John Mayer song. From her Urban Lullabies EP. I like it. Some fans of the original may not.
The Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band – That Train Song – glassarfemptee: There are many songs that imitate train sounds, but this is one of the best, even if Josh Peyton’s lyrics are barely comprehensible.
Dub Syndicate – Night Train – shoegazer: Late again.
Savoy Brown – Hellbound Train – Ravi Raman: My favourite of the two I have with the same title (the other being George Thorogood). Apparently based on a well known poem.
Muddy Waters – Still a Fool – Alfie Hisself: This is a variation on Catfish Blues with the opener ‘There are two trains running’. He varied again into Hoochie Coochie Man.
Ray Wylie Hubbard – Train Yard – tincanman: Ray Wylie channels the spirit of Lightnin’ Hopkins on this bit of dirty blues from his best album, 2012’s The Grifter’s Hymnal. It rocks. (And here’s him unplugged on his couch). For a few years a bunch of music bloggers held a virtual South By Southwest alternative called Couch By Couchwest. We asked artists to perform a song from their couch and record it for us. Loads of fun.
Lindisfarne – Train in G Major – AliM: From their 1971 album, Fog on the Tyne, I think this is one of the best songs they ever did. Written by Rod Clements, I believe.
Half Man Half Biscuit – The Light at the End of the Tunnel (Is the Light of an Oncoming Train) – severin: “No frills, handy for the hills..” An old song based on an even older slogan. Seems distressingly relevant right now for some reason. Still you have to laugh. Just don’t dis Eva Cassidy again chaps.
Colter Wall – Transcendent Ramblin’ Railroad Blues – tincanman: You can be forgiven for thinking this guy was riding the rails with Jimmie ‘The Singing Brakeman’ Rodgers watching John Steinbeck pound out pages on his portable typewriter. He’s 25, middle class, and suburban – his Dad is a former Premier of his home province Saskatchewan – but by high school he was already finding his muse in old time blues and folk. Thank heavens he did.
Savoy Brown – Train to Nowhere – Alfie Hisself: Then still following in the blues mood, from the sixties London blues boom we have Savoy Brown with Train to Nowhere. Enjoying music a lot just at the mo’ – well since Killing Eve there’s been bugger all on the box.
Delta Rhythm Boys – Take the A Train – severin: Vintage vocal rendition of a jazz classic.
The Ethiopians – Socialism Train – glassarfemptee: There aren’t any passenger trains in Jamaica any more, sadly. But that doesn’t stop the Ethiopians inviting you aboard the Socialism Train. Shortly to be boarding at Westminster – listen for announcements.
Little Feat – New Delhi Freight Train – Ravi Raman: Well one cannot really ride freight trains here whether they are from or to New Delhi or not. Also both the timeline plus geography seem to be off as Jesse James is supposedly escaping on board! Nevertheless it’s still a cool song.
Joan Baez – Freight Train – Bluerover: Available on Youtube but I can’t find a link to send. Beautiful song, beautiful voice, reminds me of teenage years spent carrying the weight of the world. Plus ca change – Not. The Chas McDevitt version has fantastic whistling but you can add it yourself to this one.
Nancy Whiskey – Freight Train – MaggieB: One from the age of skiffle, It was a big a hit in it’s day. There are clips of the actual band but the sound quality isn’t too good.
Kraftwerk – Trans-Europe Express – Maggie B: Almost all the train songs I can think of are American, so here is one from the marvellous Kraftwerk; it’s a long track but the Trans – Europe express is a long train I suppose …
Wyngate has a recent posting on the ‘Spill called ‘Great Expectations’ about Joy Division. That is a subject on me mind at the mo’.
Edddie Izzard begins a show at the Edinburgh Fringe this weekend where he is reading from the Dickens book of that name. Sold out in seconds, but I got tickets for some later shows in October and, as is my habit, did some T-shirts for us to wear. The theme being to imagine the Muppets doing it as a movie with Izzard as the guest, like Michael Caine did for Christmas Carol.
Turns out the shows in October are nothing to do with Dickens. Those readings are just a couple of shows at the Fringe and we’ll be seeing his general touring show. No-one will understand what the hell the t-shirts are on about!
Anyhap here are some photos, above, of the latest Great Expectations t-shirts, showing front and back.
There’s also an example of some Monty Python t-shirts I did for the shows at the O2. Me, son and daughter, plus her fella went by bus boat from the London-Eye to Millennium Dome and Eddie Izzard walked past us carrying pints of ale. He stopped to chat about the t-shirts for ages – me daughter loves him to bits so was thrilled. So I felt we ought to do some for his show too.
Is our experience of music influenced by what we are told to expect from it? I won’t answer that question , other than to say probably. Back in 1983 when I was first getting into music in a big way there was obviously no internet, and I hardly knew anyone who listened to anything outside obvious chart music. You could read reams of “purple prose” in music magazines about artists before you actually happened to hear them on the radio.
One band that I kept reading about long before I heard them were Joy Division. Tony Wilson had said that Joy Division “said what they felt and for some reason everyone found it earth shattering!” There were plenty more quotes from journalists about their “stormy mental landscape”, “ice sculpted beauty” (probably – pretty sure I read that somewhere) and their “bloodlust turbulence” (I definitely read that one!). So quite a lot to expect from one band. Then one day I was pretty sure I heard Peter Powell introduce a record by “Joy Division”. The record wasn’t quite what I was expecting, but as I listened it began to make sense. It did seem quite bleak and to be describing an emotional trauma. The illusion was shattered at the end of the record when I realised I’d misheard. Here is my mistaken impression of Joy Division….