Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

The Faces

Currently I am reading Andy Neill’s biography of The Faces which also covers in some detail the pre Faces careers of the band taking in amongst others Small Faces, Jeff Beck Group, Steampacket, The Birds and many more it is a great read and can be bought HERE

Below is one of my favourite Faces performances.

The recorded version came via Rod Stewart’s solo album “Every Picture Tells A Story” which as everyone knows was more or less a Faces record anyway.

The song was of course originally recorded by The Temptations and was another step away from the group’s softer records recorded with Smokey Robinson as producer, a change that Norman Whitfield had begun with “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” earlier in the year.

“I’m Losing You” features a much more dramatic arrangement than most contemporary Motown songs: a rock-styled guitar riff (devised by Temptations road manager/band director Cornelius Grant), sharp horn blasts, and the Temptations’ doo-wop vocals paint the backdrop for one of David Ruffin’s trademark raspy lead vocals.

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July 2, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Books, Cover Stories, R&B, Soul, Video | , , | Leave a comment

New News – David Bowie

I have just started to read the above new biography on David Bowie.

This will be the first Bowie biography that I have read and I look forward to what I am sure will be an interesting read.

To buy the book click HERE

Meanwhile David Bowie will release a new EP featuring remixes of his 1975 single ‘Golden Years’ on June 6.

As well as the original title track, the EP will feature four remixes by DJs Jeremy Sole, Anthony Valadez, Eric J Lawrence and Chris Douridas from US radio station KCRW.

Bowie will also make a ‘Golden Years’ iPhone app available on the same day that the EP is released. It has been created by ‘Station To Station’ producer Harry Maslin and will allow fans to remix their own version of the track.

KCRW are streaming a preview of the ‘David Bowie Vs KCRW Golden Years’ EP online at Blogs.kcrw.com.

Source www.uncut.co.uk

April 16, 2011 Posted by | Books, New News, Video | | Leave a comment

Who Overload!

From mid-1970 to early 1974, The Who, or in particular Pete Townshend, undertook an amazing and peculiar journey in which they struggled to follow-up “Tommy” with a yet bigger and better “rock opera”.

One of those projects, “Lifehouse“, was never at that time completed, though many of its songs formed the bulk of the classic 1971 album “Who’s Next”.

The other,” Quadrophenia”, was as down-to-earth as the multimedia Lifehouse was futuristic; issued as a double album in 1973, it eventually became esteemed as one of the Who’s finest achievements, despite initial unfavourable comparisons to Tommy and remains my favourite album of all time!

Along the way, the group’s visionary songwriter, Pete Townshend, battled conflicts within the band and their management, as well as struggling against the limits of the era’s technology as a pioneering synthesizer user and a conceptualist trying to combine rock with film and theatre. The results included some of rock’s most ambitious failures, and some of its most spectacular triumphs.

In “Won’t Get Fooled Again: The Who From Lifehouse to Quadrophenia”, noted rock writer and historian Richie Unterberger documents this intriguing period in detail, drawing on many new interviews; obscure rare archive sources and recordings; and a vast knowledge of the music of the times.

The result is a comprehensive, articulate history that sheds new light on the band’s innovations and Pete Townshend’s massive ambitions, some of which still seem ahead of their time in the early 21st century.

Having now finished the book the above synopsis by Waterstones pretty well sums it up.

To buy the book click HERE

Whilst reading the above book I have also been flicking through a new “Who Special” from the makers of Uncut

People try to put them down – but that’s because they’re still around!

The latest Ultimate Music Guide from the Uncut team turns the spotlight on one of the most exciting, bright, controversial – and loud! – rock bands that Britain has ever produced. Over 148 pages, we salute the majesty and audacity of The Who.

As usual, we’ve raided the NME and Melody Maker archives to reprint, in full, a wealth of extraordinary interviews, unseen for years. There are riotous nights out with Keith Moon, provocative soul–searching sessions from Pete Townshend, blow–by–blow accounts of all those concept albums and rock operas, and even an incendiary piece in which Roger Daltrey appears to break up the band.

Meanwhile, Uncut’s current roster of fine writers have provided authoritative new reviews of every Who album, to go alongside many rare and beautiful photographs.

Pete Townshend himself pens a candid new introduction to the whole extravaganza. “What would I have done differently?” he ponders… “I would never have joined a band!”

A treasure trove of wisdom, outrage and remarkable images, from the makers of Uncut – that’s The Ultimate Music Guide: The Who.

On sale here.

April 7, 2011 Posted by | Books, Magazines, The Who, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Lonesome Road

Having now finished the above book my favourite two Chapters were those dedicated to Blind Willie McTell (watch out for forthcoming post) and the one detailing the “Bob Dylan Theme Time Radio Hour” from which I discovered that Frank Sinatra was the most played artist and that one of Dylan’s all time favourite tracks is Sinatra’s 1957 version of “Lonesome Road”

Look down – look down
That lonesome road
Before you travel on

Look up – look up
And seek your maker
Before (mr.) gabriel blows his horn

(I’m) weary (of) toting – such a (heavy) load
Trudging down – the (that) lonesome road

Look down – look down
That lonesome road
Before (before) you travel on

True love – true love
What have I done
That you should treat me so

You – caused me
To walk and talk
Like I never did before

(I’m) weary (of) toting – such a (heavy) load
Trudging down – the (that) lonesome road

Look down – look down (look down – look down)
That lonesome road
Before (before) you (decide to) travel on

To buy the music of Frank Sinatra click HERE

March 29, 2011 Posted by | Books, Interesting Fact, Old Music | , | Leave a comment

New News – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is set to headline the first London Feis festival this June.

Celebrating Irish music and culture, the event takes place in London‘s Finsbury Park on June 18, with more acts set to be added to the bill soon.

Organiser Vince Power explained that he had booked Dylan on an “exclusive” deal, meaning that the show will be his only UK appearance this year.

“Announcing Bob Dylan for an exclusive UK performance means that the first year will be one to remember,” Power said.

The festival will feature three stages. See Londonfeis.com for more information.

Source www.uncut.co.uk

This news coincides with my reading of the above book which has instigated one of my periods of intense Dylan listening.

To many you either love or hate the music of Bob Dylan, however, for me I land somewhere in between, though closer to the love end, and as such can recognise  the brilliance of much of his catalogue yet can equally recognise his many failings.

“Dylan In America”  by Sean Wilentz cherry picks what the author feels were the primary influences on the young Dylan and thereafter concentrates on what the author regards as the key music releases and events of Dylan’s career.

The Chapter that I’m currently reading describes in detail the making of “Blonde On Blonde” which of course includes many a Dylan classics such as this.

“Rainy Day Women #12&35” – Bob Dylan

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re trying to be so good
They’ll stone ya just a-like they said they would
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to go home
Then they’ll stone ya when you’re there all alone
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ ’long the street
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ on the floor
They’ll stone ya when you’re walkin’ to the door
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

They’ll stone ya when you’re at the breakfast table
They’ll stone ya when you are young and able
They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to make a buck
They’ll stone ya and then they’ll say, “good luck”
Tell ya what, I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you and say that it’s the end
Then they’ll stone you and then they’ll come back again
They’ll stone you when you’re riding in your car
They’ll stone you when you’re playing your guitar
Yes, but I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

Well, they’ll stone you when you walk all alone
They’ll stone you when you are walking home
They’ll stone you and then say you are brave
They’ll stone you when you are set down in your grave
But I would not feel so all alone
Everybody must get stoned

Copyright © 1966 by Dwarf Music; renewed 1994 by Dwarf Music

To buy the music of Bob Dylan click HERE

March 10, 2011 Posted by | Books, New News, Old Music | | Leave a comment

Jack Bruce – Part Two

The formation of Cream in conjunction with Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker was Bruce’s ticket to the big time, finally realising some good income from music (though not as much as was expected due to yet another manager rip off story) but more importantly giving him the opportunity to play and reach out to so many new fans without compromising his musical beliefs.

Their sound was characterised by a hybrid of blues rock, hard rock and psychedelic rock,combining Eric Clapton’s blues guitar playing, the psychedelia-themed lyrics, voice and blues bass playing of Jack and the jazz-influenced drumming of Ginger Baker.

The anticipation had been that the band would give Eric Clapton the conduit to become a band leader and major star, as it turned out initially it was Jack Bruce that emerged as the leader and driving force of the band, however, as we find out in Part Three next week it would indeed be Clapton who would move on to superstar status.

Cream made its unofficial debut at the Twisted Wheel on 29 July 1966.

Its official debut came two nights later at the Sixth Annual Windsor Jazz & Blues Festival.

Being new and with few original songs to its credit, Cream performed spirited blues reworkings that thrilled the large crowd and earned it a warm reception.

In October the band also got a chance to jam with Jimi Hendrix, who had recently arrived in London. Hendrix was a fan of Clapton’s music, and wanted a chance to play with him onstage.Hendrix was introduced to Cream through Chas Chandler, the bassist of The Animals, who was Hendrix’s manager.

Hendrix would later show his admiration for the band by breaking from an agreed script on the Lulu Show to promote Cream by playing “Sunshine Of Your Love”  during his performance of  “Hey Joe”.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves Cream’s debut album, Fresh Cream, was recorded and released in 1966.

It mainly consisted of blues covers, including “Four Until Late”, “Rollin’ and Tumblin'” (an old blues number recorded by Hambone Willie Newbern in 1926, which became a blues standard thanks to versions recorded by Muddy Waters and Elmore James in the early 1950s), “Spoonful” (written by Willie Dixon and recorded by Howlin’ Wolf), “I’m So Glad” (written by Skip James) and “Cat’s Squirrel”.

The rest of the album featured songs written (or co-written) by Jack Bruce, most notably “I Feel Free” (which was a UK hit single, but only included on the American edition of the LP), and two by Ginger Baker (one of which, “Toad”, contained one of the earliest examples of a drum solo in rock music).

Ginger Baker also collaborated with Jack Bruce’s then-wife Janet Godfrey to write “Sweet Wine”; Godfrey also provided lyrics for the trio’s first original blues composition, her husband’s “Sleepy Time Time.”

Cream first visited the United States in March 1967 to play nine dates at the RKO Theater in New York.

They returned to record Disraeli Gears in New York between 11 May and 15 May 1967 which was released in November 1967 and reached the Top 5 in the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.

Produced by Felix Pappalardi (who later co-founded the Cream-influenced quartet Mountain) and engineer Tom Dowd, it was recorded at Atlantic Studios in New York.

Disraeli Gears is often considered to be the band’s defining effort, successfully blending psychedelic British rock with American blues. It was also the first Cream album to consist primarily of original songs, with only three of the eleven tracks written by others outside the band. Disraeli Gears not only features hits “Strange Brew” and “Tales of Brave Ulysses”, but also “Sunshine of Your Love”.

In August 1967, Cream played their first headlining dates in America, playing at the Fillmore West in San Francisco for the first time. The concerts were a great success and proved very influential on both the band itself and the flourishing hippy scene surrounding them.

Faced with a new listening audience, it was during this time that Cream started to stretch out on stage, incorporating more jamming time in their repertoire, some songs reaching 20 minutes. Long drawn-out jams in numbers like “Spoonful”, “N.S.U.” and “Sweet Wine” became live favorites while songs like “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Crossroads”, and “Tales of Brave Ulysses” remained reasonably short.

In 1968 came Cream’s third release, Wheels of Fire, these studio recordings showcased Cream moving slightly away from the blues and more towards a semi-progressive rock style highlighted by odd time signatures and various orchestral instruments.

However, the band did record Howlin’ Wolf’s “Sitting on Top of the World”, plus both Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign” and “Born Under a Bad Sign”, which became a popular track off the record.

The opening song, “White Room”, became a radio staple. Another song, “Politician”, was written by the band while waiting to perform live at the BBC.

The album’s second disc featured three live recordings from the Winterland Ballroom and one from the Fillmore. Eric Clapton’s second solo from “Crossroads” has made it to the top 20 in multiple “greatest guitar solo” lists.

While with Cream,Jack Bruce played a Gibson EB-3 electric bass and became one of the most famous bassists in rock, winning musicians’ polls and influencing the next generation of bassists such as Sting, Geddy Lee and Jeff Berlin.

Jack co-wrote most of Cream’s single releases with lyricist Pete Brown, (who remained his co-writer long after Cream as we will see later) including the hits, “Sunshine of Your Love”, “White Room”, and “I Feel Free”.

By 1968, Cream were hugely successful; they grossed more than the next top six live acts of the day added together (including Jimi Hendrix and The Doors). They topped album charts all over the world, and received the first platinum discs for record sales, but the old enmity of Bruce and Baker resurfaced in 1968, and after a final tour, Cream broke up.

Cream were eventually persuaded to do one final album. That album, the appropriately titled Goodbye, was recorded in late 1968 and released in early 1969, after the band had broken up.

It featured six songs: three live recordings dating from a concert at The Forum in Los Angeles, California, on 19 October, and three new studio recordings (the most notable, “Badge“, was written by Clapton and George Harrison, who also played rhythm guitar as “L’Angelo Misterioso”). “I’m So Glad”, which first appeared as a studio recording on Fresh Cream, appeared as a live track on Goodbye. It was the only song to appear on both Cream’s first and last albums.

Following the demise of Cream Clapton went on to form the ill-fated Blind Faith “super group”, Bruce meanwhile had money in his pocket but drugs in his veins resulting from long spells touring the US where any drug was readily available, Bruce developed a heroin habit which stayed with him a long time.

His financial situation however allowed him to set out on a solo career, all three Cream members remained signed to Robert Stigwood’s RSO Label he believing he would now have “three Creams”.

Bruce had other ideas and set of on a cross genre solo career with many highs musically if not commercially and this path will be covered next week in Part Three.

By 1972 Bruce felt he was in need of a return to the mass audience of mainstream rock, possibly as much financially driven as musically or ego driven.

Such an ideal opportunnity arose in the form of “West Bruce and Laing”

The trio formed in Chicago in the spring of 1972 following the breakup of Mountain, which featured occasional Cream  producer Felix Pappalardi, Leslie West and Corky Laing.

The coming together of West, Bruce and Laing was a commercial concept which was designed to build on the success of the two power trios Cream and Mountain as this would be attractiveto the massive US album and concert markets.

As such he trio toured extensively and released two studio albums, 1972’s Why Dontcha

“The Doctor” – West Bruce and Laing

and 1973’s Whatever Turns You On.

They disbanded shortly before the release of their live album Live ‘n’ Kickin’ in 1974.

“Powerhouse Sod” – West Bruce and Laing

Ultimately they failed to deliver and whilst they were a success on tour their music lacked the punch of both Cream and Mountain.

Following the split Bruce returned with more money in his pocket, though less than expected partly due to the hedonistic lifestyle on the road, and an even greater drug dependency.

The flame of creation was not diminished and he would return, all be it to a reduced audience, with more great music which we will cover next week in Part Three.

To buy the music of Cream click HERE

To buy the music of West Bruce and Laing click HERE

February 19, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Blues, Books, Cover Stories, Old Music, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Jack Bruce – Part One

Having just finished reading the above great Harry Shapiro biography of one of Scotland’s all time great musicians Jack Bruce I have been inspired to finally blog my own overview of the man and his work.

Whilst the “celebrity” star for Jack no doubt peaked with his period in Cream, his ability as a cross genre musician has never faded and it is his means of dealing with the retreat into a state of comparative obscurity from the “rock star” years that gives the book an added edge.

You can buy this great book by clicking HERE, however, in the meantime here is a brief musical journey through the career of Jack Bruce.

John Symon Asher “Jack” Bruce (born 14 May 1943, Bishopbriggs, Scotland) had musical parents who moved frequently, resulting in the young Bruce attending 14 different schools, ending up at Bellahouston Academy.

Bruce began playing the jazz bass in his teens, and won a scholarship studying cello and musical composition at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, while playing in Jim McHarg’s Scotsville Jazzband to support himself, though on joining in 1962 he replaced Mr McHarg himself!

The Academy disapproved of its students playing jazz, however. “They found out and said ‘you either stop, or leave college.’ So I left college.”

Thus it was later in 1962 when he became a member of the London-based band Blues Incorporated,led by Alexis Korner, in which he played the double bass. The band also included organist Graham Bond, saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith and drummer Ginger Baker, all of whom were to play big parts in his musical destiny.

They were the first amplified R&B band in the UK, however, Jack wasn’t part of the group when they recorded the classic “R&B From The Marquee” album.

In 1963, the group broke up and Bruce went on to form the Graham Bond Quartet with Bond, Baker, and guitarist John McLaughlin.

They played an eclectic range of music genres, including, bebop, blues and rhythm and blues.

As a result of session work at this time, Bruce switched from double bass to electric bass. The move to electric bass happened as McLaughlin was dropped from the band; he was replaced by Heckstall-Smith on sax and the band pursued a more concise R&B sound and changed its name to the Graham Bond Organisation.

They released two studio albums and several singles.

“Long Tall Shorty” – The Graham Bond Organisation

Whilst not commercially successful a factor for this could have been Bond’s rough, growling singing voice, which was an acquired taste. Another was the decided lack of conventional star appeal of the four members: Bond, Bruce, Baker, and saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith.

Jack was compelled to leave this band after three years by Ginger Baker, who said his playing was “too busy”!

Jack had to turn down Marvin Gaye’s offer to join his U.S.-based band because of his impending first marriage.  He then joined John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, where he first met Eric Clapton,  and although he did not appear on what many regard as the best British Blues album every recorded, “John Mayall Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton” (also known as The Beano album), he can be heard on a few of the live tracks which were added to the recent expanded edition.

What followed next was a short lived and ill advised attempt at some commercialism via  a stint  with Manfred Mann. Jack played on the groups second No1 hit “Pretty Flamingo” and also featured on the  “Instrumental Asylum” EP which was all cover versions of other bands hits including The Rolling Stones and The Who.

“My Generation” – Manfred Mann

Check back Next Week for Jack Bruce Part Two (The Hedonistic Rock Years)

February 12, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Blues, Books, Cover Stories, Old Music, R&B, The Who, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment

Stuart Adamson – In A Big Country

I have just finished reading Allan Glen’s good biography of Stuart Adamson.  With no new interviews with band members granted to the author, official biographies of The Skids and Big Country are due though no one knows when, he has relied on a series of interviews with people close to Stuart and extracts from past band interviews.

In such circumstances it is a credit that the book provides enough to allow the reader to gain some insight into the man himself who thrived on his music, his family and his love for Dunfermline Athletic FC.

From his initial success with The Skids through Big Country to his relocation to Nashville and subsequent projects it is obvious that he always retained a passion for his music, however, he was less comfortable of  being “famous” yet craved recognition as a good songwriter and performer.

Whilst it is never easy to determine what may drive any individual towards total alcohol dependency and thereafter a tragic suicide it is certain that the above conflict and an increasing remoteness from his family played a part.

Adamson was married twice. He also had two children, born to his first wife Sandra in 1982 and 1985. In 1996, Adamson split with Sandra and moved to Nashville.

There he remarried, and founded his final band, the alternative country band The Raphaels, a duo of Adamson and Nashville songwriter Marcus Hummon.

On 16 December 2001 he was found dead, after committing suicide by hanging in a room at the Best Western Plaza Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii. At the time of death he had a blood-alcohol content of 0.279%.

Musically for me he peaked early via two great debut albums via The Skids “Scared To Dance” and Big Country’s “The Crossing”.

Their second album was a disappointment for me, however, as a band they hit a commercial high with their third album “The Seer” which sold well all around the world making them a headline attraction in the US where I saw them live in San Diego in 1986.

There were two big hits from this album “One Great Thing” which was used in a television advertising campaign for Tennents Lager and the world wide hit “Look Away”

My favourite Big Country music is their soundtrack for the film “Restless Natives” which was the ideal medium for their sound.

As the 80’s merged into the 90’s record sales for Big Country diminished, however, they remained a sought after live attraction both as headliners and support acts for many including on two ocassions The Rolling Stones.

If you only want to own one Big Country album then make it the 2005 expanded 2 disc version of “Without The Aid Of A Safety Net” which is a part acoustic part electric live recording from their 1993 Barrowland concerts.

The last chapter of Big Country’s recording career was spent across a series of record labels with limited success, however, these two songs alone were good enough proof that inspiration was never far away.

“The One I Love” – Big Country  (!993)

“Fragile Thing” – Big Country  (1999 featuring Eddi Reader)

To buy the music of The Skids click HERE

To buy the music of Big Country click HERE

January 30, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Books, Old Music, Video | , , , , | 5 Comments

2010 Top 30 New and Old #20

The Saint Jude album “Diary Of A Soul Fiend” caught my ear back in November and has provided constant listening pleasure ever since, if you like your music with a dash of The Faces and with a voice like Joplin this is for you.

“Soul On Fire” – Saint Jude

To buy the music of Saint Jude click HERE

The above book written by Roberto a.k.a Robert Fields has been a major source of inspiration for my Blast from The Pasts for most of this year.

The book is a great read (see previous post HERE) and can still be bought by clicking HERE

The track I have chosen is by The Rumbledown Band of which there is more information in my previous post HERE

“I Know Why The Sun Don’t Shine” – The Rumbledown Band

The track has once again become readily available as a result of the re-release of the great Paul Kossoff collection “Blue Soul-The Best Of Paul Kossoff” to buy click HERE

December 11, 2010 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Blues, Books, New Music, Old Music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Patti Smith – Write On!!

Patti Smith has called on publishers and readers not to let technology kill off traditional books.

The singer made the statement after winning a National Book Award for her memoir, Just Kids. She collected a $10,000 (£6,250) prize for winning the non-fiction category at the awards ceremony in New York last night (November 17), reports BBC News.

“There is nothing more beautiful than the book, the paper, the font, the cloth,” she said. “Please never abandon the book.”

Her memoir, which won the non-fiction prize, trails her youth in New York in the 1960s.

Source :- www.uncut.co.uk

“Bookends” – Simon & Garfunkel

To buy the music of Simon & Garfunkel click HERE

November 24, 2010 Posted by | Books, Old Music, Video | , | Leave a comment

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