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.

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

Cover Story – Dirty Old Town

“Dirty Old Town” is a song written by Ewan MacColl in 1949 that was made popular by The Dubliners and has been recorded by many others since.

The song was written in reference to Salford, then in Lancashire (now in Greater Manchester), England, and the place where Ewan MacColl was brought up. It was originally composed for an interlude to cover an awkward scene change in Ewan MacColl’s Salford-set, 1949 play Landscape with Chimneys, but with the growing popularity of folk music the song became a standard.

The song paints an evocative yet ultimately bitter picture of industrial northern England, and presages to some extent the Angry Young Man school of the 1950s.

When MacColl first wrote the song, the local council were unhappy at having Salford called a dirty old town and, after considerable criticism, the words of the song were changed from “smelled a Spring on the Salford wind” to “smelled a spring on the smoky wind”.

The Spinners made the first popular recording of the song and they sang “Salford wind”. This was hardly surprising as the lead singer on the track was Mick Groves, a Salfordian.

The song was therefore written about an English town; but because of the song’s later association with The Dubliners and The Pogues, many people tend to think of it as an Irish song, and as such, in Ireland the lyrics are popularly thought to refer to Dublin or Derry – a counter-part to the latter being Phil Coulter‘s “The Town I Loved So Well“.

My favourite version is by Rod Stewart.

 

To buy the music of Rod Stewart click HERE

June 25, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, Folk, Old Music, Video | , , | Leave a comment

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Haven’t had much reggae here recently so here is Marcia Griffiths and her version of one of Ewan MacColl’s greatest songs.

“The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face” – Marcia Griffiths

The song was written for Peggy Seeger who later became his wife and is cherished as a MacCall song devoid of politics.

The song entered the pop mainstream when it was released by Peter, Paul and Mary (Album: See What Tomorrow Brings, 1965), and was later recorded by Roberta Flack, in 1972. The Flack version was much slower than the original: an early solo recording by Seeger, for example, clocked in at two and a half minutes long, whereas Flack’s is more than twice that length.

MacColl reputedly hated almost all the recordings of the song, including Flack’s.

His daughter-in-law is quoted as saying:

“He hated all of them. He had a special section in his record collection for them, entitled ‘The Chamber of Horrors’. He said that the Elvis version was like Romeo at the bottom of the Post Office Tower singing up to Juliet. And the other versions, he thought, were travesties: bludgeoning, histrionic and lacking in grace.”

June 22, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Cover Stories, Folk, Old Music, R&B, Reggae, Soul, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Peck Of The Week – Maria McKee

Here is a great live acoustic version of a Springsteen classic from Maria McKee (Lone Justice)

“Backstreets” (Live) – Maria McKee

McKee was a founding member of the cowpunk/country rock band, Lone Justice, in 1982, with whom she released two albums. Several compilations of both previously released and unreleased material and a BBC Live In Concert album have been released since their demise. Her band opened for such acts as U2.

When she was 19, she wrote Feargal Sharkey‘s 1985 UK number one hit “A Good Heart“, a song she has since recorded herself and released on her album Late December.

The song was originally written about her failed relationship with musician Benmont Tench. Sharkey would later go on to also cover “To Miss Someone” from her self-titled solo debut, on his third solo album “Songs From The Mardi Gras”.

In 1987 she was featured in the Robbie Robertson video “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”, and contributed back-up vocals to his debut solo album, which included the song.

She released her first solo, self-titled album in 1989. Her song “Show Me Heaven“, which appeared on the soundtrack to the film Days of Thunder, was a number one single in the United Kingdom for four weeks in 1990.

She refused to perform this song in public up until recently, when she sang it for the first time in eighteen years, at Dublin Gay Pride.

Following her debut, McKee has released five studio (and two live) albums. The later three, High Dive, Peddlin’ Dreams and Late December, were released independently via her own Viewfinder Records label (distributed in the UK via Cooking Vinyl).

 

To buy the music of Maria McKee click HERE and for Lone Justice click HERE

 

June 11, 2011 Posted by | Blast from The Past, Cover Stories, Old Music, Peck Of The Week, Video | , , , , | 1 Comment

Roddy Hart & Gemma Hayes – The Dylan EP

Arriving a tad late for Dylan’s 70th birthday celebrations Scotland’s own Roddy Hart has teamed up with Ireland’s Gemma Hayes for a four track EP of Dylan covers, all of which happen to be favourite Dylan tracks of mine.

Some may ask why? Some may say why not, either way the four tracks (Most Of The Time, Oh, Sister, Not Dark Yet and It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue) are all recorded within a safe distance of the original arrangements with the dual vocals of the artists being the immediate difference bar Oh, Sister which tries hard but falls short of replicating the magic created between Dylan and Emmylou Harris on the original.

“Oh, Sister” – Roddy Hart & Gemma Hayes

From Amazon.comes this brief review:-

After successfully curating ‘Forever Young: A 70th Birthday Tribute To Bob Dylan’ at this year’s Celtic Connections festival – featuring a host of international artists including Rosanne Cash, Josh Rouse, Thea Gilmore, Kris Drever, Eddi Reader and more, and broadcast by Radio 2 and Sky Arts – Scottish
singer/songwriter Roddy Hart and his band The Lonesome Fire join forces with another of the night’s performers, Irish singer/songwriter Gemma Hayes, to release “The Dylan EP” on Vertical Records. Featuring four lesser known Bob Dylan tracks – Most Of The Time, Oh Sister, Not Dark Yet and It’s All Over Now Baby, Blue – the critically acclaimed artists combine with stunning effect to breath new life into the works of the world’s most iconic songwriter.

Following in the footsteps of Dylan’s prolific out put, Hart (who attracted the talents of US legend Kris Kristofferson for his first album, Bookmarks), and Hayes (who received a Mercury Prize nomination for her debut album Night On My Side) are both due to deliver their fourth albums later in the year.

To buy the EP click HERE

June 9, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, New Music, New Releases | , , , | Leave a comment

John Martyn – Heaven and Earth

The late great John Martyn has just had his final recording released in the form of the album “Heaven and Earth”.

The nine songs on the album, which includes a version of the Phil Collins song “Can’t Turn Back The Years” featuring Collins himself, were never planned as being the next Martyn release as his hope had been to work and record with jazz musician Pharoah Saunders, sadly this was never to be.

Instead it has been left to long time friend and producer Jim Tullio, and Gary Pollitt as a co-producer to put Martyn’s “last musical testament in order”, assembling the posthumous album from an assortment of the singer-songwriter’s vocal and guitar takes. “John was a genius,” Tullio said. “He made music more naturally than anyone I’ve ever met, as effortlessly as the way you and I speak.”

Martyn’s connection to Collins came out of their experiences with divorce. Thirty years ago, both were reeling from the ends of their first marriages; Martyn even “crashed” at Collins’s home, and the former Genesis drummer produced Martyn’s 1981 album Glorious Fool. “John wanted to do one of Phil’s songs to repay him,” Tullio said. Before his death, Martyn had begun work on “Can’t Turn Back the Years”, taken from Collins’s 1993 solo album, Both Sides. “After John passed, I spoke with Phil and he really wanted to sing on the track,” Tullio said. “[Phil] said he had always wanted John to record one of his songs. You can hear the emotion in their voices.”

Despite the kudos of the above the heart of the album—felt on tracks like “Gambler” and “Bad Company”—beats in Martyn’s intuitive, idiosyncratic sense of the blues, filtered through his earthy feel for roots- and jazz-inspired songwriting and his raw voice.

“Bad Company” (not the song of the same name by the band of the same name) is in fact my favourite track on the album and would be suited to the treatment like that of Maggie Bell brings to R&B.

 

Fans of the great man won’t be disappointed with the album but will as always miss what still might have been as ‘Heaven and Earth’ may not have the memorable strength of earlier work but it does allow Martyn’s voice to slide and slur and giggle along the simple melody with especially on the title track’s declaration of love that does recall so many of his powerful romantic declarations: ‘I’ll move heaven and earth just to be with you’ and the sax slurs its groove too.

To buy the album click HERE

 

May 31, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, New Music, New Releases, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Cover Story – Andrea Corr with Tinseltown In The Rain

There are some songs which just aren’t meant to be covered and this is one of them!

This is a track, and the lead single, from her album of cover versions titled “Lifelines” released on 30th May 2011.

Amazon UK is quoted as saying “Produced by John Reynolds and featuring co-production on several tracks by Brian Eno, `Lifelines’ is a personally curated collection of songs that have resonated throughout Andrea’s life and includes stunning versions of songs by a range of artists from Velvet Underground, Kirsty McColl, Harry Nilsson to Ron Sexsmith, Nick Drake and The Blue Nile. Expansive yet intimate, grown-up yet powerfully vulnerable, the primary instrument on the album is the voice and `Lifelines’ see’s Andrea at her most diverse, pushing the vocals and extending her range far beyond her previous recordings.”

Her choice of songs is excellent and you cannot question her bravery for taking them on……but why?

Well you heard why from the woman herself.

The Velvet Underground’s “Pale Blue Eyes” as so brilliantly covered previously by Paul Quinn and Edwyn Collins doesn’t fair much better.

If the album introduces a whole new audience to a selection of great songs why should we really complain, go buy the originals but if you wish you can buy her album by clicking HERE

May 30, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, New Releases, Video | , , , , | 2 Comments

New News – Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney is set to release a covers albums in early 2012.

The Beatles man recorded the album in Los Angeles and has said it is comprised of covers from the “pre rock” era.

Speaking to Rolling Stone about the release, he said: “It’s my dad’s style of music. I’ve wanted
to do that kind of thing forever, since The Beatles days. But then Rod went mad on it. I thought, ‘I have to wait so it doesn’t look like I’m trying to do a Rod.'”

The album, which does not yet have a title, will feature a number of songs with jazz singer Diana Krall and McCartney has said each song is one “He admires” and that the album is “Get-home-from-work music.”

He said: “They’re just songs I admire. I’m trying to steer away from the obvious
ones. It’s get-home-from-work music. You put it on and get a glass of wine.”

McCartney has also said he is planning to record a “heavy rock album” after being inspired by the new Foo Fighters album ‘Wasting Light’. He added: “It sounds quite wacky, but it keeps it fresh. I love that, you get a crazy idea and go with it. You never know, I may run into a garage to make this other album.”

Source www.uncut.co.uk

In the meantime remasters of his first two solo albums will be along soon.

May 26, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, Jazz Vocal, New News, Video | , , | Leave a comment

Cover Story – Bob Dylan

Artists covering Dylan songs can be considered almost the norm, however, it is less common for an artist to cover a Dylan album in its entirity.

Thea Gilmore has just done that and her end product “John Wesley Harding” has just been released.

Any perceived success will in part be due to Robbie McIntosh’s inspired  guitar  work throughout  peaking on while Gilmore’s take on “All Along the Watchtower”   which is pitched midway between Dylan’s and Hendrix’s.

“All Along The Watchtower” – Thea Gilmore

To buy the music of Thea Gilmore click HERE

May 25, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, New Music, New Releases, Video | , | Leave a comment

Sunday Jazz – Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan turns 70 on Tuesday 24th May so here in the first of three posts to mark the ocassion is a couple of jazz covers.

For more information and previous posts on Madeliene Peyroux click HERE and HERE

For more information and previous posts on Barb Jungr click HERE and HERE

May 22, 2011 Posted by | Cover Stories, Jazz Vocal, Video | , , | Leave a comment

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