Great Musical Controversies: It’s time to cancel The Rolling Stones

I don’t quite mean that, as the whole ‘cancel culture’ phenomenon has become absurd (outrage at the BBC for accurately reporting racist abuse with the approval of the victim’s family? Ffs!), but their oeuvre does need examination and, at a minimum, censure.

The Stones were initially a covers band, playing the American rhythm’n’blues songs they liked and their first hits – Lennon & McCartney’s I Wanna Be Your Man and Buddy Holly’s Not Fade Away – were inspired by Bo Diddley’s rhythmic feel. As I might have mentioned, I became a teenager as The Beatles first exploded into the charts, which also means that I witnessed their rivals being born into the same environment. Whereas the former were groomed by Brian Epstein to be the cheeky but neat lads that girls wanted to marry and boys wanted to emulate, the latter were encouraged by Andrew Loog Oldham to be an arrogant, untamed bunch that girls wanted to have sex with (and boys wanted to emulate).

This performance of Not Fade Away on US TV shows the direction their image was taking in 1964: the insolent, lascivious jiggling and deliberate sexual ambivalence, aimed at outraging parents across the land even more than Elvis had. And the preceding interview shows them as moody teens who’d rather make digs at each other than address the questions, in stark contrast to the cheeky Liverpool lads.

But The Fabs had shown that you needed to write your own songs to have any staying power (and lucrative royalties), so Mick and Keef set about that task and came up with The Last Time (adapted from a gospel song) and (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. I found this Keef quote attached to the lyrics of Wild Horses: “If there is a classic way of Mick and me working together, this is it. I had the riff and chorus line, Mick got stuck into the verses. Just like ‘Satisfaction’.”

And here is the problem: Richards reduced his beloved R’n’B songs into mechanical riffs and Jagger ignored all their soul and pain and wrote sexist doggerel instead.

Continue reading

Great Musical Controversies: Heritage Rock is a dull and unnecessary thing

OK, first of all I suppose I should define what I mean by “Heritage Rock”. My meaning here is the way that bands from the past have been repackaged in modern times, leading to an endless stream of reissues of their old albums, generally as expensive and exhaustive box sets, and occasionally leading to bands getting back together (well the members who haven’t shuffled off this mortal coil) to tour so that oldies can relive their teenage years and new fans can see a band they thought long gone.

Secondly, I need to declare an interest here, because there is one band I intend to absolve from any part in this massive marketing exercise, and that is King Crimson. This is because the one thing that Robert Fripp has never done is to live in the past. Yes, the current incarnation of Krim is playing old stuff, much of it very old stuff, but it is not just old stuff played like the original stuff. Also, the current version of Krim is a many-headed beast that is doing Krim things in new ways. Of course, as we are discussing controversies here, feel free to shoot that down.

Thirdly, and this is a personal thing, I originally intended to have a moan about a musical phenomenon that I really have no time for, and that is the Tribute Band thing, but I started thinking about why tribute bands exist, which made me see them as part of the heritage rock industry, and that got me thinking about why the heritage rock industry exists.

Of course, the primary reason for heritage rock is Money (It’s A Gas). All those record labels are sitting on massive piles of treasure in the form of the back catalogues of bands that in many cases ceased to exist at some time in the 1970s. Of course, some of those bands are still, theoretically at least, in existence, some of them in multiple versions, but they aren’t the cash cows that the corporate interests want them to be, but what can a poor boy do (or more accurately, what can a corporate accountant do) ‘cept to sell for a rock ‘n’ roll band?

So, “Where are we now?”, as one late great asked on his penultimate album. I think that he answered himself in the same verse, and that answer is “Just walking the dead”. Now, I don’t necessarily mean actual dead people, although many of those who featured in these bands are no longer with us, and in a few cases, none of them are, which asks the question, well, the greedy corporate heritage rock executive asks the question, “Why not do a hologram show?”. The answer is obvious, really. No, do not do a hologram show. If I want to see the Jimi Hendrix Experience play live, I’ll watch a DVD from Monterey or somewhere else. I do not want to pay a stupid amount of money to sit in a concert venue watching light projections flashing around to a freshly-scrubbed soundtrack from the Isle of Wight, Woodstock or Monterey. Jeez, I’d rather go and watch a Hendrix tribute band. Well, actually, I wouldn’t, but I am not going to rant endlessly about the proliferation of crap bands pretending to be rock gods under names like Shed Zeppelin, Status Quid, Careful With That Cash, Eugene, You’ve Been Fooled Again or The Grateful Bank Manager.

It doesn’t have to be like this, people. The past is over, as is the song. It is gone (really gone) and we really cannot turn back time.

OK, I am lucky. I was there back when Robert Plant really was a Golden God, and I saw him strut his stuff in probably the most massive rock experience I’ve ever experienced more than once, and I can tell you, the memories are still spine-tingling. I feel sorry for people that didn’t see Led Zeppelin in their considerable pomp, but I really cannot support anyone who pines for 1971 and the return of that band. It ain’t gonna happen. Your time really isn’t gonna come. I’ve seen Robert Plant perform several times in recent years, both with Alison Krauss and with his own band, currently operating as the Sensational Space Shifters, and he is amazingly good, as is the band. He even chucks in a few Zep numbers, but, and this is key, he reworks them, they are different and, crucially, he know that they are different because he needs them to be. He doesn’t want to turn into a Led Zep tribute act, but he does have the right to play his own songs how he sees fit, as does Bob Dylan, who often seems to upset his fans by making a new thing out of an old song. I only wish that his old sparring partner Jimmy Page could cut free and put out some new music too. I’d buy it, but I don’t want to buy yet another box set of Zeppelin remasters with extra bonus tracks (although a few years ago, I did get all my Zep CDs replaced with the most recent set of reissues, by the expedient of getting people to buy them for me as Christmas and birthday presents. OK, I cheated, but the remasters do sound good, more like the vinyl, I think.

Anyway, I don’t want to see a Led Zeppelin reunion, I don’t want a Pink Floyd reunion, A Gabriel/Hackett-era Genesis reunion or any other reunions. Those things are never going to be as good as the memories, although I accept the right and the reasons why musicians who were active then might want to revisit their old choons and take them out on tour occasionally. To be honest, I’d rather pay to see Steve Hackett and his band playing the Firth of Fifth than the current Genesis playing anything at all, and perhaps that comes to the heart of the matter.

Heritage rock can exist because of other things than just giant corporations grabbing that cash with both hands and making a profit. Sometimes it can be about active musicians, ones who have never stopped performing, playing their old songs. Steve Hackett is a prime example, as are Fairport Convention, as well as the afore-mentioned King Crimson. I don’t have a problem with that. What I really dislike, despise even, is the greedy and grasping corporations who have looked at the tons and tons of old stuff that they are sitting on, like dragons sleeping on piles of gold, and decided to create a market for music that people have already bought, sometimes several times, by bands that they loved when they were 17 and bands that stopped existing back when punk was a 16th century word for a prostitute, and no one ever wore tartan bondage strides.

Oh, yeah, and I also really, really dislike the fact that The Who didn’t die before they got old. The Who in the early 70s were incredible, they were angry, they sounded like The Who, they were young, the music made sense, Daltrey could still actually sing. Now? You have got to be kidding. I do not want to listen to two old guys banging out “Won’t Get Fooled Again” or “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, just as I don’t want to see wrinkled ancient billionaire Mick Jagger pretending to be a “Street Fighting Man”, and yes, I know it was a bit tongue in cheek back then anyway.

Anyway, I am also giving Nick Mason a free pass with his Saucerful of Secrets band. He is entitled to do whatever he wants with his own music, because he appears to be a) a nice chap and b) he’s doing something new with old things, like Percy Plant does.

I suppose I ought to end with a choon, so I will. I am going to pick something that is by a band that I have loved since the 1970s, and which the heritage rock vampires seem, so far to have overlooked. It is a song about being conned, finding out that it was a con and going on to find out that loads of other people were also conned.

Dixie Chicken by Little Feat

Wow! Where Did The First Half Of 2019 Go?

It may be an age thing but the years seem to fly by; it’s as if it were just yesterday and we were commenting on The Festive Spill selections!

Continue reading

Favourite Albums – 2018 (No Turkeys)

 

For those that want some respite from left-over turkey, mince pies and possibly relatives but haven’t over indulged in this year’s Festive Spill and still have an appetite for yet another Best of … list of 2018’s music here’s a playlist of some of the music that’s been tickling my fancy.

Continue reading

Ten Tracks : BJM Radio

B-List

Anyone here use Pandora?  No, me neither. It does seem to be the streaming service of choice in my neck of the woods, or it has been for a few jobs i’ve worked. Apparently one way to use it is to choose an artist, and it will set up a playlist stream “radio station” of the artist, influences, related artists, and influencees. So – ie. Grateful Dead Radio or White Stripes Radio.

When i manage to shanghai the tunes, my go-to choice is the Brian Jonestown Massacre Radio station. (Even I can only take an hour or so of Jack White).  BJM’s Anton Newcombe has his finger in an awful lot of pies, and so there’s plenty of 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon to make a varied stream that i can listen to for 6 hours straight without disliking a single tune. They play plenty of Bowie, Stones, Iggy, VU, Sonics, 13th Flr Elevators, etc.  Also Radiohead, Cure, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Stone Roses, Beck, and then artists like Ty Segall, Tame Impala, Thee Oh Sees, Allah-Las, the Hives, and Black Lips that show up on my playlists with some regularity, so for the most part i left these off of the lists.

To knock all of this down, i took Prof. Abahachi’s idea of an A and a B list. Tossed a bunch of tunes on the A-list (below) to get them out of the way, so i can focus on the B-list (above).

I suspect this is marmite stuff. If you already like this sort of thing, you’ll know a lot of them and might find a band or two that you don’t. If it’s not your basket of cookies, i don’t know that i’ll convince you. If you’re curious – there’s a (woefully insufficient) A-list for starters, and then a B-list.

A-List

Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – 2017 in sound – Week Three

Finally, time to put you all out of your misery with my third playlist of music I have enjoyed in 2017. Without further ado, well after the obligatory cute Festive image, the music will follow. Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – 2017 in sound – Week Two

Hello Pop Pickers, here is my second playlist of 2017 choons. Six more tracks that I’ve heard and enjoyed in 2017. Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Credits” by Wooter

This week, ‘Spillin’ The Beans is having a listen to an album that is planned for release in January 2018. The artist in question is Wooter, a.k.a Rowan Brind, a New York-based musician who describes himself as a multi-instrumentalist/music producer.

avatars-000321710263-3e2ezh-t500x500

Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – King Crimson: Live in Chicago June 28th, 2017

Apologies once more for the absence of any Beans last week, but my excuse is perfect. The dog ate my review. No? Well, OK, I tried. Anyway, this week I am turning once again to a major artist, to my mind, one of the towering giants of British experimental, underground and progressive music since 1969. Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – A Tighter Knot by Squarewave

‘Spillin’ The Beans is a bit late this week, due to circumstances beyond my control, OK, I had a cold and didn’t fancy listening to stuff over and over, but today the Beans are recharged and back on track. This week’s album is by Squarewave, a band formed by Jeff Jagielo and Pat Connaughty and their album, “A Tighter Knot”,  has emerged from the forests of Winsconsin after a long gestational period of seven, yes seven years and is now available from Artisanal Records, where you can also stream the album. The band also has a page on Facebook, too. Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Daybreak” by The Divisionists

This week I am ‘Spillin’ The Beans on the new album by London band The Divisionists. The album is entitled “Daybreak” and is available here on Bandcamp.

Divisionists - Daybreak (cover)

Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – Amerikana by The Stevenson Ranch Davidians

For dull reasons, ‘Spillin’ The Beans is a day late this week, but never mind, this week’s column is about a very interesting album, Amerikana, by yet another band I’ve not previously heard of, and that band is The Stevenson Ranch Davidians, even though they have been around in various forms since 2006, although they haven’t released anything since 2009, which makes me feel better about my ignorance of their existence.

The Stevenson Ranch Davidians - Amerikana (cover) 168

Continue reading

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “The Road Heavy” by The Road Heavy

This week, I am reviewing music in a much more traditional genre, Blues Rock. The band is from Canada, they are called The Road Heavy and they have out an eponymous six track EP. The band consists of Pat James on vocals and guitar, Sweet Jules on vocals, lead guitarist Ryan Blake, Jesse Harwat on keyboards, Andre DaSilva on bass and drummer Jeff Cox.

Their sound is pretty muscular and if people are interested in hearing it, the music is here.

So, what can I say about The Road Heavy? Well, there are a few points of reference, I think. The twin male/female vocal approach immediately made me think of bands from the past like Vinegar Joe, but musically, the sound is harder, less funky and tighter, driven by some excellent guitar playing. I can imagine the band putting on a pretty storming live performance. There are echoes of bands like Bad Company, Free and Stone The Crows here, but I think that comparisons like that might be misleading, because I think that there is a more contemporary feel to the playing.

I’ve listened to the six tracks twice now and I think that the single taken from the EP, entitled “Human Condition” is a pretty good place to start. There is a video of this track available;

So, what do I think? I think the band are fine, they have a great punchy sound and I like their music. It isn’t breaking any new ground musically, but it delivers what you want from this kind of blues rock. I can think of people I know who would lap this stuff up. Give them a listen.

Where are the women of New Country/Americana? – Discuss

A couple of years ago I read an article about the Country Music Awards which referred to an artist called Chris Stapleton – he stole the show with two duet performances with Justin Timberlake (I have a secret crush on Justin Timberlake btw).  I’d never heard of him.  As you’ve hopefully now learned from these posts, my next move was to check out the impressively bearded man.  He has a decent heritage as a successful songwriter for other artists and had recently released his own solo album called Traveller (new album due soon).  It is the most gorgeous collection of soul searching tunes about life and love.  Soon after my introduction to Stapleton, a friend with a huge music knowledge and much tidier beard than all the fellas in the pictures, suggested tracks by The White Buffalo and a group called Blackberry Smoke.

The White Buffalo, or Jake Smith to his mum, has a larger solo output than Stapleton. He drew a wider audience after some of his music featured in the popular biker-club TV series Sons of Anarchy.  His most recent album, Love and the Death of Damnation, came out at about the same time as Stapleton’s Traveller.  His versatile voice lends a mournful tone to his musical stories which feature a gritty reality at their core.  Again – beautiful.

And so to Blackberry Smoke; a loveable crew of southern rockers with real variety to their repertoire.  They can do heavyish rock, classic country sound and funkier soulful stuff.  There’s often a little glint of humour about their output.  Apparently they are great live and have a reputation for being a hard working band.

I love the music these artists offer up, but I know next to nothing else about Americana/Southern Rock/Country.  The other day I was listening to Chris Stapleton’s new single and wondered where all the women of this genre are.  I’m not talking the old style female country singers we all know.  I’m talking the new generation.  Where are they?  I could go and do my own homework, but where’s the fun in that, when I have you guys to help me out?  I know at least 2 of you will know something about this.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge.  What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

 

 

Welcome to Wilson Wednesday

Welcome to Wilson Wednesday

No, no, don’t worry, the Spill hasn’t just been sponsored by an international sporting goods manufacturer, nor have we been “cast-away”. (see what I did there???)

Rather, this crazy (and regularly absent) Spill contributor from down under was browsing through his music collection the other day and got to thinking about a large number of musical “Wilsons”. The Marconium already has six solo Wilson artists, probably countless more if we include band members, and that may be the tip of the iceberg.

So, as a semi-regular series, I thought each Wednesday that I get around to it, I will showcase a “Wilson” and open up comment/debate on that Wilson. There are of course obvious Wilsons to explore, and we will, but there will also be some more obscure ones as well. Hey, I will even take requests for Wilsons, and better still, happy for anyone else to provide a write up for Wilson Wednesday – you are all so much more musically knowledgeable than I am.

Continue reading

American Football – Discuss

I hadn’t intended writing about this band today, but I ran out of time with the thing I did want to write – spreading myself thin again.

American Football is another band I’ve stumbled upon recently.  I was reading Pitchfork, the online music magazine.  There is an amusing article from Feb 2016 about this band; amusing because the writer waxes lyrical about what a shame it is that they are never going to make another album, because their first and only record showed such promise.  I looked them up and was a bit confused to find 2 albums listed – they released their second album two months after the article was written, much to the surprise of the music press it seems.

When I listened to their first album from 1999 I was slightly enchanted.  The music belies the lyrics I think which are so heart-breaking and full of melancholy as they chart the difficulties in a relationship. The guitars are beautiful (I was sort of reminded of mid to late 90s Teenage Fanclub, or is that just me?), there are trumpets in places and the off kilter, swaying melodies are soporific in a calming way; yet the subject matter is quite gloomy in places.   The second album released last year continues with a similar sound and themes.  It’s almost as though they’ve had a lovely peaceful time of it for the past 17 years until something has triggered the need to vomit up and share the emotion again.

But quite honestly, I don’t know what I’m talking about here.  I’m just trying to explain my response to listening to it.  I don’t know enough about this scene or music in general to provide a more informed view I’m afraid (Wiki says it’s Emo – I curled my lips at this, hey, what do I know?), but I’m here to learn.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge.  What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

Slint and Lift to Experience – discuss

Hey everyone.

I hadn’t intended for my first post on The ‘Spill to be this.  However, I’ve had a few weeks of musical discovery. First, I came across Slint having never heard of them before.  I read an interview with Aiden Moffatt of Arab Strap where he hailed them as one of his favourite bands. I instantly fell in love with their only album, Spiderland.

And today I’ve come across Lift To Experience for the first time. I’ve been listening to their only album The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads this afternoon. There is an uncanny similarity between the two albums I think. So, not knowing anything about either band I thought I’d get you more knowledgeable music nerds to tell me what you know, provide critique and opinion. Are there any other bands like these two one-album wonders I should know about? Discuss….

Slint – Breadcrumb Trail
Lift to Experience – Just as Was Told
(Don’t know how to embed videos on my phone…Soz!)