Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Heavy Sugar: The Pure Essence of New Orleans R&B

Various Artists Heavy Sugar: The Pure Essence of New Orleans R&B Parts 1, 2 and 3;
Various Artists Heavy Sugar Second Spoonful: More Pure Essence of New Orleans R&B (all titles 4.5* for New Orleans fans, 3.5 otherwise)

The casual visitor to The Little House of Concrete, where these four sets are on high rotation might counter Hughesy's enthusiasm for the joys of New Orleans R&B with well, Hughesy, that's all very well but deep down it's just old style rock'n'roll isn't it?

And the casual visitor would, in part be right. An awful lot of what we've come to know as old style rock'n'roll originated in recording studios located in and around New Orleans. If the casual visitor still isn't convinced I'd offer two names - Fats Domino and Little Richard.

Those two names say a fair bit about what happened as that first wave of R&B boomed out over the late night airwaves on stations like Nashville's WLAC where the  daytime playlist was aimed at white audiences, but after dark the station beamed rhythm and into thirty states from the Gulf of Mexico and across the Caribbean to Jamaica, as far north as Buffalo, New York,  and  west to the foot of the Rockies, reaching the ears of, among others, Bob Dylan, The Band’s Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Levon Helm. Mother Earth singer Tracy Nelson, growing up in Madison WI was another listener.

It wasn't long before Fats Domino was being firmly set in the mainstream, close enough to white bread to avoid being pushed to the sidelines (though one notes the frequency of white bread covers of Fats' material) and ending up as a fixture in Las Vegas. Those interested in pursuing the subject are respectfully pointed towards Rick Coleman's excellent Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock 'n' Roll.

Little Richard may have grown up in Georgia and started recording for the Houston-based Peacock label (ironic, that, you'd be pushed to find a better descriptor than peacock when it came to Richard's stage presence) before moving on to Specialty (based in Los Angeles) but his biggest hits were cut at  Cosimo Matassa's J & M Studio in New Orleans with studio players who had worked with Fats Domino (drummer Earl Palmer and Lee Allen on sax for starters) rather than using his own road band. For both, recording for labels with a wider distribution brought success that wasn't possible for some of their Crescent City peers.

There are half a dozen offerings from each scattered through the hundred and fifty tracks here, and the enthusiast who wants to explore either man's extensive catalogue would be best advised to head elsewhere. There's an almost bewildering array of Fats Domino compilations out there, and Hughesy's copy of The Fat Man box set, acquired fifteen or so years ago is comprehensive enough to save me the effort of investigating those options further, and if I need more Little Richard there's always the ninety track The Complete Rock'n Roll Years '51-57 for $9.99 at iTunes.

But Little Richard and Fats Domino isn't what this series of compilations is all about.

There's a wealth of material out there, some of it bordering on the well known (Roy Brown's Good Rocking Tonight, Smiley Lewis' Little Liza Jane, Professor Longhair's Go to the Mardi Gras, Art Neville's Cha Dooky Doo and Zing Zing, Don't You Know Yockomo by Huey 'Piano' Lewis with His Clowns), but the real delights are the obscure gems that, for one reason or another, failed to hit the big time. Huey 'Piano' Smith's Beatnik Blues, for example.

New Orleans classics that are better known in other incarnations turn up in disguise. Junco Partner gets morphed into Roland Stone's Preacher's Daughter, with the junkie references neatly scrubbed out and replaced by knowing nudge nudge notions of undying love while Charles Brown delivers a lively run through It's A Sin To Tell A Lie.

Those of us who remember Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) will come across John Fred with and without The Playboys/Playboy Band and there's plenty more to explore if you've got the inclination to do so.

That inclination may well depend on how much of this material the enthusiast has already, but at $9.99 for the three volumes of Heavy Sugar: The Pure Essence of New Orleans R&B (25 tracks on each) and $14.99 for the seventy-five tracks on Heavy Sugar Second Spoonful, you're hardly up for an arm and a leg, and there's almost certainly a swag of stuff you won't have.

Those with an interest in New Orleans music could do far worse than this as a starting point, fleshed out with the four disk Doctors, Professors, Kings & Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans (buy the hard copy, the booklet is wonderful), Rounder's four disk City of Dreams compilation and the Kindle version of Rick Koster's excellent Louisiana Music.

You'll need deep pockets and/or a substantial balance available on the credit card if you were going to do that, but these four titles aren't a bad place to start.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton Play the Blues (4*)

Given an extensive discography that varies between the sublime (the studio version of Cream, Layla) and the ridiculously naff (anything resembling Wonderful Tonight) my approach to a new Clapton recording invariably involves scrutiny of his collaborators on the project in question.

Given the intersection of superstar guitar hero status and an inclination to veer straight into the worst excesses of the middle of the road (I mean, how else do you explain Wonderful Tonight?) Clapton's at his best when he has someone to spark off who'll also spark off him (a la Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall on the mid-noughties world tour or the late great Duane Allman) rather than deferring to The Man Who Was Once God.

If that sounds like a put down, I'd point out my Claptonic wish list includes something along the lines of the item under review involving gospel music and Robert Randolph and a recursion into Delaney Bonnie & Friends territory with the latter day reincarnation of DB & F (Derek Trucks, Susan Tedeschi and the rest of the Tedeschi Trucks Band).

Wynton Marsalis and Eric Clapton Play the Blues (Live from Jazz At Lincoln Center), recorded at New York City’s premier jazz venue isn't quite up there but it ain't too shabby either.

Assuming, that is, the listener shares Hughesy's affection for the music of New Orleans. If traditional jazz gives you the heebie jeebies this one ain't for you, folks.

For a start we've got a collection of material selected by Clapton and arranged by Marsalis, and given Marsalis sits very firmly in the traditional side of things we've got a very traditional sounding effort. That's not to suggest it's all traditional material. Howlin' Wolf's Forty-Four gets a guernsey, as does Layla, rearranged as a Crescent City dirge at the request of bassist Carlos Henriquez.

Taj Mahal drops by to contribute vocals to Just a Closer Walk With Thee and Corrine, Corrina and Clapton's happy to play rhythm rather than dominating the spotlight, though he does contribute most of the vocals.

We're looking at a lineup based on King Oliver’s Creole Jazz Band plus two (Clapton's electric guitar and Chris Stainton's piano) playing material stretching from from the rumbunctious hokum of Ice Cream to the spiritual (Just A Closer Walk with Thee) with a variety of staging points in between, all of them rounded into a setlist that works very well as a whole. The trumpet shines throughout and the rest of the lineup isn't far off stellar in the style.

Your mileage may vary, but this one sits somewhere between 4* Quality recording worth a serious listen and 3.5* Interesting but non-essential. Listening as I type I'm inclined to round it up rather than down.

David Bromberg "Use Me"

David Bromberg Use Me (4*)

As you might expect, someone who has been associated with the likes of Reverend Gary Davis, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia,Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Jorma Kaukonen isn't going to be short of musical friends and acquaintances.

On Use Me David Bromberg calls in some musical favours from Dr. John, Levon Helm, Linda Ronstadt, John Hiatt, Widespread Panic and Los Lobos to produce an album that offers a lively amalgam of blues, folk, jazz, bluegrass and country & western, played with Bromberg's characteristic restrained virtuosity.

After returning from a recording hiatus lasting 17 years for 2007's Try Me One More Time (in the meantime he's been operating a violin sales and repair shop in Wilmington, Delaware, with his wife) this latest effort, recorded on the various guest artists' home turf (Levon Helm in Woodstock, Dr John in New Orleans, Nashville for John Hiatt, Tim O’Brien and Vince Gill, Los Angeles for Los Lobos) works the same territory he's been mining through a lengthy career.

If you're looking for rootsy eclecticism, with very classy performances on fiddle, acoustic and electric guitar, pedal steel and dobro with warm vocals and a classy lineup of guests who don't get in the way, Bromberg's your man.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

North Mississippi Allstars "Keys to the Kingdom"

North Mississippi Allstars Keys to the Kingdom (3.5*)
Given the genre (bar band southern rock or its cousin brother beer'n'boogie) you might suspect there are a couple of thousand outfits like the North Mississippi Allstars out working the clubs, bars and juke joints of the states below the Mason-Dixon line, but there won't be too many who can claim the links the NMAS have to key but largely sidelined figures in the field.

Guitarist Luther Dickinson and drummer, keyboards player and electric washboard(!) dude Cody Dickinson are the sons of Memphis musician and producer, Jim Dickinson who worked with Ry Cooder, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. Jim passed away two years ago and Keys to the Kingdom is, to all intents and purposes, a celebration of Dad's life and work. It's a genre that you'll probably either love or hate (no pretensions to virtuosity, but they can dig a groove with the best of them). The album's tidy enough as a genre exercise without aspiring to or reaching any significant heights in terms of innovation or virtuosity, bit those two elements don’t turn up too often in the genre, do they?

Hughesy's tip: Sample a couple of tracks and then click over to their cover of Dylan's Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again which is one of the best things I've heard in a long time.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bert Jansch "Bert Jansch"

Bert Jansch Bert Jansch (4*)
Around ten years ago I was marvelling at the sonic beauty of Roddy Frame's Surf, recorded in his living room, allegedly on his iMac, but here, going back close to fifty years ago is a stark reminder that you don't need state of the art recording facilities to produce something that comes across crystal clear and moves in excess of 150,000 copies.

Recorded in producer/engineer Bill Leader's flat on a semi-professional Revox tape recorder with blankets and egg boxes for soundproofing, from the opening Strolling Down the Highway, it's a seventeen track ramble through fingerpicked originals with Jimmy Giuffre's Smokey River and two takes on Davey Graham's Angie (one of them a live performance) and a nod to Charles Mingus on Alice's Wonderland. A glance at titles like Oh How Your Love Is Strong, I Have No Time, Rambling's Gonna Be the Death of Me, Running from Home and Dreams of Love might suggest common or garden folk club fare but we're talking one of the guys who set the benchmarks everyone else would be judged against.

Needle of Death provides a blueprint for Neil Young’s Needle and the Damage Done and the basis for Ambulance Blues, a debt Young acknowledged by giving Bert the opening spot on his recent Twisted Road tour. Recommended if you've got an interest in the style and the starting point for what will be an extensive investigation of a substantial discography. $11.99 from iTunes.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Small Faces "From the Beginning"

While From the Beginning might have been an exercise in emptying the vaults and causing maximum disruption to the rival product on the Immediate label it ain't too shabby.

Admittedly I didn't really need the album, having already got the Decca hit singles (What'cha Gonna Do About It, Sha-La-La-La-Lee, Hey Girl, All Or Nothing and My Mind's Eye) on an earlier Faces compilation, but from the opening reworking of Del Shannon's Runaway it's a reasonably interesting collection, largely drawn from the band's stage repertoiire over the preceding year or two.

There's material from both versions of the lineup, with keyboard duties attended to by former member Jimmy Winston (interesting take on the Marvin Gaye cover Baby, Don't You Do It with a Winston vocal) and his replacement Ian McLagan. Other covers include readings of Don Covay's Take This Hurt Off Me and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' You've Really Got A Hold On Me that underline what a great R&B vocalist they had in Mr Marriott.

Other tracks, like My Way Of Giving (rushed out as a single by Decca while it was still at the demo stage, an act that was largely responsible for the move to Immediate) were more or less works in progress. Tell Me Have You Ever Seen Me may well have actually been finished, but was re-recorded for the new label) or demos for material handed over to other singers (My Way of Giving was done by Chris Farlowe and re-recorded for the new label). There's a Booker T & the MGs style instrumental (Plum Nellie), a couple of interesting bits of semi psychedelia (Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow and That Man) a handful of dance floor numbers and the reissue comes with around a half dozen alternative tracks and BBC recordings.

Taken all together, while it mightn't have quite been in the same league as the classic albums from 1967 (The Doors, Something Else By The Kinks, or Disraeli Gears to name a couple of less obvious suspects from a very strong year)  it's not that far behind.

And, remember, it's the leftovers after a label switch. When you look at it in that light (not that the band wanted you to back then, going as far as discouraging the punters from investing in a copy in the advertising for the Immediate Small Faces) it, even at the time you could have done far worse...

And for $10.07? For mine, a no-brainer!

R.I.P. Bert Jansch

A long-standing interest in the British acoustic music that hasn't consistently translated into shelf space in the music collection meant that I picked up copies of Colin Harper's Dazzling Stranger: Bert Jansch and the British Folk and Blues Revival and Rob Young's Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music and devoured both in pretty quick time, figuring that they'd be pretty good starting points for a more detailed examinstion of that particular field.

At a stage where I'm investigating as much new music as I can find and filling in the gaps in a forty-year music collection those more detailed examinations aren't always going to be sitting at the top of the list of priorities and with the passing of Bert Jansch (3 November 1943 - 5 October 2011) that deferred investigation of an extensive discography is going to be posthumous.

When you're talking influences and strands running through genres it's difficult to think of many largely forgotten yet extremely influential artists than Bert Jansch. He'd been around for years, produced an extensive discography that's going to chew up an awful lot of credit card cash and shaped the playing of, among others, Jimmy Page and Neil Young, a rather interesting combination as far as Hughesy's concerned.

After all, when you think Led Zeppelin you tend to think in terms of thundering rifferamas, and while Neil Young can also thunder it out with the best of the turn it up to 11 crowd he's got an extensive array of fairly straightforward acoustic material, with Ambulance Blues being a pretty straightforward lift from Jansch's Needle of Death, which you can also hear echoes of in The Needle and the Damage Done. The influence was strong enough to have Young use Jansch as the opening act on his 2010 Twisted Road tour of North America. He was, according to Young, the acoustic equivalent of Jimi Hendrix.

Jancsh influenced plenty of others along the way, including Johnny Marr from the Smiths, the Incredible String Band's Robin Williamson (a former squatmate), Paul Simon, Pete Townshend, Donovan Nick Drake and, more recently, Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Espers, Babyshambles singer Pete Doherty, Beth Orton and Laura Marling.

A Scot of German extraction, Jansch was born in Glasgow, moved to Edinburgh as a child shortly before he fell under the spell of the guitar, Elvis Presley, Bill Haley and Lonnie Donegan after a primary school teacher in Edinburgh brought one into class. His parents couldn't afford a guitar, so he had a couple of goes at building his own before he came up with something that worked.

He worked as a nurseryman before becoming involved with the Howff folk club, where he took lessons from Scottish singer Archie Fisher and visiting American artists including Big Bill Broonzy and Brownie McGee, absorbed jazz and Arabic influences from London-based folk-baroque guitarist Davey Graham and more traditional input from singer Annie Briggs. He started writing his own material, influenced by Graham's eclecticism and moving away from the then-standard traditional and political repertoires.

There appears to have been a degree of natural flair involved, and according to legend it took only two lessons for Archie Fisher to teach him everything he knew. The second lesson was necessitated by the fact that much of the first was spent on the drink.

After a spell busking around Europe he moved to London, recording for the Transatlantic label and playing the folk club circuit playing an eclectic mixture of British folk and American blues in unusual tunings with plenty of improvisation, a fairly heady mix when you consider that, at this point, he didn't have a guitar of his own, content to use whatever instrument he could manage to scrounge temporarily at the gig and doesn't appear to have had a fixed address.

We're presumably not talking someone who spent hours in a garret honing his chops, and his first album was recorded in a kitchen on a reel-to-reel tape deck using a borrowed guitar..

His self-titled first album, which contained Needle of Death, appeared in 1965, followed later that year by It Don't Bother Me and collaborations with fellow guitarist John Renbourn (Jack Orion, Bert And John) the following year. 1967 saw the duo absorbed into ground-breaking folk supergroup Pentangle (with Jacqui McShee on vocals, bass player extraordinaire Danny Thompson and percussionist Terry Cox), an outfit that achieved commercial success between 1967 and 1972 with a string of successful albums, concerts characterised by extended solos and intensive improvisation and extensive radio and TV exposure.

Interspersed with the half-dozen albums recorded in the first incarnation of Pentangle (1968's The Pentangle and Sweet Child, 1969's Basket of Light, with Cruel Sister,  Reflection and Solomon's Seal following each year until 1972) Jansch recorded another three solo albums (Nicola,  Birthday Blues and Rosemary Lane) before the pressures of five world tours, recording and excessive alcohol consumption got too much for him in 1973, when he retreated to a farm in Wales.

There were occasional reunions through the eighties and nineties and into the twenty-first century, though from that point on Jansch remained essentially a solo artist who was, by all accounts, an introverted yet riveting performer, finger-picking in a style based around improvisation.

The albums, sixteen of them, followed at increasingly sporadic intervals through to 2006's The Black Swan, and along the way alcohol-related pancreatic illness prompted him to give up the drink ion 1987. International touring, Pentangle reunions,  and the reappearance of his back catalogue on CD ensured a continuing though largely under the radar presence, as did TV appearances and Colin Harper's biography, Dazzling Stranger.

Heart surgery in 2005 was followed by surgery for lung cancer in 2009, a circumstance that forced him out of some opening spots on that year's Neil Young tour, though he was able to rejoin Young on the 2010 leg of the tour, but the disease returned, leaving that situation where the examination of an extensive body of work is going to need to be done posthumously.

The examination, by the way, is about to start with an $11.99 download of his fifteen track eponymous debut from 1965 (padded out with a brace of bonus tracks).

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Izzys "Keep Your Powder Dry" EP (4*)

The world of blogs can lead you off in some unexpected directions, and I've been adding blogs that have regular items of interest to my Reading List on the site that hosts the various Little House of Concrete blogs.

Saves you bookmarking and actually going to check for updates, and all that…

Blabber 'n' Smoke, according to the banner, is a Glasgow view of Americana and related music and writings, and seems to have a knack for digging up albums that don't make it into the pages of Mojo, Rhythms and Uncut. Worth a look, if Americana floats your boat and you're inclined to look beyond the mainstream.

A recent  review of Mare Wakefield's Meant To Be sounded like something that might be worth investigating, and a quick check at iTunes revealed all five of her albums on sale for $16.99 a throw, which was a bit beyond what I was likely to spend on the basis of a single review, but it seemed worth keeping an eye out for other references which might sway things.

It was about that point when I noticed Blabber ‘n’ Smoke has a category labelled Downloads, which seemed worth a glance, and further investigation revealed this free download of an EP by The Izzys, who appear to have been around for a while operating in and around New York City.

This Keep Your Powder Dry EP is available over there on iTunes, by the way, along with several other releases, and based on an initial listen or three, they may well be picking up a bit of sales action from the Little House of Concrete.

With any number of echoes from the quality end of the past forty-something years. I heard a fair bit of Pete Townsend and Ronnie Lane in the opening Tear 'em On Down, but that may be the result of recent exposure to Rough Mix and it continues throughoutn, while the EP concludes with a reading of the Jerry Garcia Deal.

One to listen to with a fellow music freak and a decent glass of red while you do a bit of I'm getting a hint of with the wine and the music. Derivative, perhaps, but it sounds like they're operating from some pretty classy influences.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Reflection: Reviewing a Listening Paradigm

Just under twelve months ago, having just returned from the W.A. Odyssey, I posted a Reflection on The Music Pages concerning Hughesy's New Listening Paradigm. It was a time, in these parts at least, where New Paradigms were a topic of interest as Australian politicians worked through the implications of the August 2010 Federal Election, and it's interesting to return to the topic of New Paradigms now because, despite what's happening on the surface, there are deeper undercurrents in operation, largely out of sight.

As far as Australian politics goes, you'd probably be thinking that the Gillard government is currently going through its death throes, and you may well be right, and that they're having great difficulty getting anything done, which seems to be substantially wide of the mark.

They've actually managed to get a lot of legislation through the Parliament without anyone noticing, largely because everyone seems to have been watching the Abbot/Gillard media circus photo opportunities on the twenty-four hour news cycle.

So, you ask in your relentless quest for knowledge, what does this have to do with either Hughesy's listening habits (we were talking Hughesy's New Listening Paradigm weren't we?) or the world of music in general?

Well, for a start that reference to the twenty-four hour news cycle reminds me that we've undergone a major change in the way we consume/listen to music, and many of us might not exactly be working on a twenty-four hour music cycle, but if we're not it's probably because we have to sleep for a bit (assuming you don't have a speed habit, which means you've got three sleeps before Christmas or are looking to emulate Keith Richards and are looking to get through the decade without a kip).

Now, it might seem, on the surface, that not much has changed.

Certainly, if you're living next to a building site in these parts you'd be thinking that not much has changed as 4TO or HOT-FM blare out across the countryside, and, in that sense, not much has.

Commercial radio continues to be dominated by mass media dreck, but let's forgive the bastards for a minute and suggest that builders need a soundtrack, that they need to be able to hear it over the roar of sundry power tools and selecting a particular radio station and sticking to it cuts down on productivity issues related to constant changing of stations and arguments over whose musical taste is located in his nether regions…

Because they could, should they choose to do so, operate like some of us and have their own personal tailored to their own tastes radio station delivered through their preferred digital platform.

So as far as Hughesy's New Listening Paradigm is concerned, we're looking at the avenues through which we can manage the soundtrack that runs almost continuously from the ridiculously early hour when I get up while I'm in the environs of the office.

These days I tend to get started by catching up on the latest podcasts that iTunes downloads automatically, which usually fills in the time before the morning walk very nicely, and once I've had a chance to listen to as much of the latest news and current events as I can stomach it's time to cut the iTunes loose to provide the soundtrack for the rest of the day.

We're inclined to forget how much hassle was involved with listening to your own music back in the pre-digital era. Back before the five-disk CD changer, there were repeated and regular instances where the listener was required to physically walk over and add or remove recorded media from the player.

These days, of course, you add your material to your player of choice and let 'er rip.

Theoretically, you can go for twenty-four hours in shuffle mode without needing to change a thing, which brings the subject of organizing your music library into play.

Anybody who's visited the Little House of Concrete will be only too aware of the quantity of music on the shelves, and it probably comes as no surprise to learn that much of it has found its way onto the hard drive of the desktop computer, with selected subsets on the iPod and the iPad.

As far back as early 2008 I has around thirty-five thousand tracks on the hard drive of the old machine, and had actually heard them all at least once.

Then came the Great Computer Crash which didn't wipe out the whole library but did take out the associated metadata, which meant that the whole thirty-five thousand tracks (allegedly) hadn't been played.

The experience suggested thirty-five thousand tracks was just a tad excessive, and that the library needed to be substantially reduced, so over the next eighteen months some severe culling chopped it back by around eight thousand tracks.

But those tracks needed to be heard and sorted while the culling proceeded, which was, as you may have gathered, a major undertaking.

So how did we manage it?

The answer lies in the Smart Playlist side of iTunes, and worked on number-oriented playlists that the reader might care to consider if you need to sort out large quantities of digital music.

For a start you need a way to separate your latest acquisitions from all the other stuff in the library through an Unheard list (Smart Playlist Plays is 0) or a Recently Added list (Smart Playlist Date added in the last (say) six months Plays is less than 7, or whatever figure you specify). I like to have both, because Recently Added gives you a way to get to those recent additions after you've heard them once.

From there, I have a number of numerical Smart Playlists (named, predictably, One, Two and so on) (Smart Playlist Plays is whatever number you're looking at).

That's handy when you've been doing and adding the contents of all those CDs that come on the front of magazines like Mojo to the library along with everything you've bought or downloaded.

Downloaded material, in particular, can vary markedly in sound quality and performance and those CDs on the front of magazines can contain a certain amount of material that's surplus to requirements, and unless you're in a position to give that Unheard playlist your undivided attention there's every chance things you don't really need to keep are going to slip by unnoticed.

The numbered filters make it increasingly likely you'll catch the little devils, particularly if you've checked the Controls: Shuffle By Albums option). Not sure about the contents of the CD that came with Mojo? Well, here you go. Something like William S. Burroughs doing a number called Ich Bin Von Kopf Bis Fuss Auf Liebe Eingestellt (Falling In Love Again) might slip past once, but keep the playlists for the lower numbers as low as possible and you'll catch days the little devil eventually.

For that reason, I try to keep the lower-numbered playlists as small as possible.

It also means when you acquire something new you can hear it several times in fairly rapid succession, assuming Unheard, Ones and Twos are kept to an absolute minimum. I've found that you don't necessarily want to be working from Recently Added, since iTunes doesn't always download albums in the appropriate running order.

At the other end of the spectrum, you want some playlists that deliver good stuff you feel like hearing on a consistent basis. After deleting the stuff that doesn't quite meet your exacting standards you're still going to have a lot of material that's short of stellar quality, but judicious use of the Forward button in Shuffle mode will see the wheat separated from the chaff as you go along, and the higher you get in those numbered playlists you tend to find the dross turning up much less frequently.

I have a smart playlist called Top 1500 Most Played (Limit to 1500 items selected by most often played), individual artist best ofs (Artist contains whoever and Plays is greater than whatever you think is a fair thing) and similar genre-themed list (Genre contains whatever and Plays is greater than the number you've chosen in the previous instance). I've found it pays to increase the relevant numbers every so often as you go along as an extra way of filtering out the also-rans.

In between those two extremes, the numbered playlists (Plays is whatever) let you run through recent acquisitions in sequence provided you 're operating in Shuffle by album mode.

Those things take time, however, and in that article eleven months ago I noted that Ones were right on 1500, Twos were 10037 and falling) with Threes on 10079 and rising, which meant I was playing my way through the Twos, and once the counter hits the 10000 mark I was going to the next one up, looking for things on the Recently Added playlist that I needed to review.

Now, at the start of September 2011 on a Sunday morning when I'm about to hit the garden for an hour or so once I finish this, I've got the situation where there's an uncertain quantity of downloaded material (I haven't expanded the ZIP and RAR files yet) and a new Ry Cooder on the horizon, Unheard is sitting on twenty, including a Hatfield and the North EP that'll be the subject of some written activity in the future, while Ones number forty, including a Velvet Underground bootleg that's not likely to be played again, assuming it survives at all).

The Twos playlist that was sitting over the ten thousand mark a year ago now numbers exactly two thousand and will be gradually whittled further, with Threes and Fours hovering around the upper end of the ten thousands and everything above that reduced to a conveniently round figure that ends in a couple of zeroes.

Having worked through the lengthy process that has produced the result I've just finished describing, and with a couple of sources for new music filtering stuff into the bottom tier of the heirarchy, it now means that I might just be able to finish a couple of reviews that have been started at various points over the past six months, and should be able to get through the process of reviewing new acquisitions in a much more timely manner...

All of which means when that Ry Cooder Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down arrives on the hard drive it'll be played a couple of times in fairly rapid succession, and will subsequently work its way through those numbered playlists to the point where my favourite tracks find their way into the Top 1500 Most Played and there's a review here in the Music blog and over on the website as a backup…

We've got a few reviews and similar items in the process of being worked up at the moment, so if there's a sudden flurry of activity hereabouts, the astute reader will know what to attribute it to…

Monday, August 22, 2011

R.I.P. Jerry Leiber

They mightn't have been the first names that spring to mind when it comes to those questions about people you'd make interesting dinner party guests but anyone who's seen Jerry Leiber (25 April 1933 – 22 August 2011) and his songwriter Mike Stoller on one of those birth of rock or popular music since World War Two documentaries would know they'd have made a pretty good double act as dinner party raconteurs.

They weren't that shabby in the songwriting department either, but now that Jerry Leiber has left us it'd be down to Mike Stoller to recount single-handed the story about his holiday in Europe, paid for from the songwriting royalties from a song called Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots, covered as L'Homme à la Moto by Edith Piaf and another number called Bazoom (I Need Your Lovin') by The Cheers.

Stoller travelled with his first wife, met Edith Piaf while they were over there and returned to New York on the Andrea Doria, the liner that collided with the east-bound MS Stockholm off the fog bound coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts.

After the collision, with the ship listing heavily to starboard, half the lifeboats were useless, but the design of the ship allowed it to stay afloat for eleven hours, long enough to rescue 1,660 passengers and crew. Forty-six passengers were killed in the collision, but with the survivors being ferried into New York it would come as no surprise to find concerned family  members and friends at the disembarkation point to greet the survivors.

Leiber met Stoller with a dry suit and the news that they'd just scored a Number one hit with Hound Dog. The response from Stoller went something like What? Big Mama Thornton got to Number One?

No, Leiber replied. Some kid called Elvis Presley.

Given the extent and quality of their writing catalogue and their production work for Atlantic and their own Red Bird Records they'd undoubtedly have had a wealth of tales about The Coasters The Drifters, Ben E. King, Phil Spector, Jerry Wexler and Ahmet Ertegun.

And then there was their work with Mr Presley, including Jailhouse Rock and King Creole.

Born in Baltimore, Leiber met Long Island native Stoller in Los Angeles in 1950. Leiber was a high school senior working part time in a record store while the piano playing Stoller was a college freshman.
After his family moved west, Leiber had started writing lyrics, based on what he heard on the radio and his own childhood bacck east, but needed someone to write the music. A drummer friend recommended Stoller, a skilled pianist with a penchant for boogie-woogie, jazz and blues and the rest, as they say, is history.

They were capable of coming up with a song in a couple of minutes, and when producer Jean Aberbach and his brother turned up looking for the songs Leiber and Stoller were supposedly writing for the Jailhouse Rock movie, refusing to leave without them, Jerry and Mike knocked out four songs over the next couple of hours, including Jailhouse Rock and (You're So Square) Baby, I Don't Care.

They'd been too busy doing the jazz club circuit to get around to the writing any earlier.

Their first recorded effort was Real Ugly Woman, recorded by Jimmy Witherspoon and their first success came with Hard Times by Charles Brown in 1952. They also had minor hits with Hound Dog and Kansas City (first recorded as K. C. Loving) before Elvis took Big Mama Thornton's number to the top of the charts.

From there, of course, there was their work with The Coasters, theatrical little teenage vignettes like Charlie Brown, Young Blood, Along Came Jones, Poison Ivy (though an ocean of calamine lotion won't be much help in dealing with a social disease), Little Egypt, Searchin' and Yakety Yak.

In that fifties environment where black music was crossing over into the pop charts those songs, essentially rhythm and blues tunes with radio-friendly pop lyrics, were major landmarks, and from there they moved into the girl group era, working out of the Brill Building, producing their own material as well as songs churned out by a stable of writers including Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman, Carole King and Gerry Goffin,  Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil and influencing Phil Spector along the way.

A collaboration with Lester Sill (later the les in the Philles label partnership with Phil Spector) in Spark Records produced Smokey Joe's Cafe and Riot in Cell Block #9 by The Robins before Atlantic bought the label in a deal that brought Leiber and Stoller into the Atlantic stable while still allowing them to work for other labels as, effectively, the first independent record producers.

For Atlantic, they morphed The Robins into The Coasters, co-wrote and produced hits for Ben E. King (Stand By Me and Spanish Harlem) and came up with On Broadway (another co-write with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil), There Goes My Baby and Dance With Me for The Drifters.

After Atlantic they produced and wrote records for United Artists including Tell Him by The Exciters and Love Potion #9 for The Clovers before setting up Red Bird Records, which released the Shangri-Las' Leader of the Pack and Chapel of Love by the Dixie Cups.

Things went relatively quiet after they sold Red Bird, but the pair continued working in an independent operation, working with artists as diverse as Peggy Lee (Is That All There Is?), Stealers Wheel (Stuck in the Middle With You), and Elkie Brooks before being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1985 and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987.

There were, as you'd expect, any number of other awards along the way and in 1995 a musical, Smokey Joe's Cafe, based on that song catalogue, enjoyed an extended run on Broadway and the soundtrack album picked up a Grammy in 1996.

2009's Hound Dog: The Leiber & Stoller Autobiography, written with David Ritz is sitting on the iPad as I type, right at the top of the Read These ASAP list.

Son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, Jerry Leiber grew up on the edge of the Baltimore ghetto, where his widowed mother ran a grocery store and was the only shopkeeper in the area who'd extend credit to blacks, picked up his musical inspiration through exposure to black culture during his childhood and teenage years, was responsible, along with partner Mike Stoller for fifteen #1 hits by ten different artists, had songs recorded by, among others, The Beatles, Aretha Franklin, Willie Nelson, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisandand James Taylor and died, surrounded by family, he died of cardiopulmonary failure in a Los Angeles hospital, survived by three children and two grandchildren and generations of music fans on 22 August 2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Three Period Pieces: Beyond the Fringe, Scaffold & The Liverpool Scene

Nostalgia, according to some, isn't what it used to be, but then again things in general ain't the way they used to be either, which is probably the point behind the whole nostalgia thing anyway.

I'm not sure about anyone else, but when I get nostalgic it's an exercise in recalling the way things used to be and figuring out how they've changed, which is basically the motivation behind my Interesting Times project as I try to make sense of some of the things that I've been on the fringe of over the past fifty-odd years.

Some of them, as the reader may imagine, were very odd indeed, and reconnection with Steve and Rhonda Doyle at Bloodwood brought back memories of JCUNQ Commem Week Revues, gentlemen named Charlie and Kimbo and Saturday night’s Underworld in St Matthew's Church Hall.

Underworld was the scene where Hughesy indulged in the odd spot of poetry reading, and while most of the source volumes are long since lost, I still have a copy of Penguin Modern Poets 10: The Mersey Sound and a slim volume of verse from Roger McGough.

I haven't revisited those recently, and haven't looked too far when it comes to tracking down copies of The Children of Albion anthology, Pete Brown's Let It Roll, Kafka, or Jeff Nuttall's Bomb Culture, all of which were key texts in that particular time and place but reminiscences of hirsute gentlemen proclaiming For mine brother Jacob is an hairy man had me heading over to the iTunes Store to check the availability of various early sixties British comedy.

A quick perusal had Hughesy purchasing the soundtrack from Beyond The Fringe (remarkable value for 42 tracks at $8.99), The Amazing Adventures of the Liverpool Scene ($35.99, but 33 tracks. over two and a half hours of material) and Scaffold At Abbey Road 1966 to 1971 ($10.99).

Now, what's under discussion here isn't going to be everybody's cup of tea, and playing through Beyond the Fringe seems to deliver sequential variations on the same sketch from different sources, but as content to throw some different elements into your shuffle mode listening it works just fine. If Hughesy was still polluting the local airwaves Bowen listeners would probably be subjected to repeated musings on Peter Cook's lack of Latin for the judging, and the memorable Peter Cook and Dudley Moore one-legged man auditioning for the role of Tarzan sketch.

We're talking close to fifty years after the act, which was topical at the time, so there's a certain amount of datedness kicking in, but a wander through the tracklisting is, at least as far as Hughesy's concerned, a chance to revisit some of the classic years of British anti-establishment humour.

Tracking down The Liverpool Scene and Scaffold, on the other hand, was prompted by a largely forgotten fascination with the poetry of Adrian Henri (Liverpool Scene) and Roger McGough (Scaffold) and it's interesting to note how the works of the two gentlemen have aged over the years.

The Mersey Poets were, largely, working in pop poetry mode, which was what made them ideal for Hughesy's Underworld readings, and a glance through the index of Penguin Modern Poets 10 reveals a preponderance of McGough over Henri when it went to pieces actually read.

Given the time gap there's no way of fathoming why that should be so, and using pencilled asterisks in the index isn't the most scientific research tool, but I suspect McGough's rather poppier offerings worked better in that setting than Henri's more consciously poetic approach.

Interesting, because forty years later a listen to both albums suggests Henri's Liverpool Scene have aged rather better than McGough's Scaffold.

Both, of course, need to be approached as period pieces that are very much a product of the times, with or without a substantial side serving of nostalgia and fond memory.

There's also (one suspects, in the absence of empirical evidence) a degree of difference in approach based on the presence or otherwise of actual musicians with actual chops, a significant variation in the sort of live work each outfit was able to manage and, more than likely, record company issues that differentiated between the EMI-signed Scaffold with the Beatle connection confirmed through Paul McCartney's brother Mike McGear as a member of the trio and the RCA-signed Liverpool Scene.

The third member of Scaffold, apart from poet McGough and singer McGear, was actor John Gorman (allegedly the most loony of the three).

Originated in a Liverpool arts lab, Scaffold found work around colleges, arts festivals but one suspects the recorded output was aimed towards a mainstream audience rather than the fringes around the colleges and festivals and much of the material on At Abbey Road 1966 to 1971 would have worked pretty well in environments like TV variety shows. Alongside the familiar hit singles (Thank U Very Much, Lily the Pink and Do You Remember, catchy little lightweight ditties that were almost guaranteed radio airplay) there's a strong element of Gang Show (Gin Gan Goolie) and Rugby song (2 Day's Monday) in a collection that is rather light on for the pop poetry I was looking for. Still, at $10.99…

Henri's Liverpool Scene, on the other hand, while emerging from the same arts lab scene, headed towards the fringes rather than the mainstream, featuring on underground DJ John Peel's radio shows and included guitarists Andy Roberts and Mike Hart, who had substantial musical chops and went on to develop solo careers.

You'll still find Henri's portentious poetics predominating the mix, but the vocal and instrumental contributions from the others add light and shade to something that's very much a product of its time but provides an interesting listening experience.

Given the price, it's a collection that needs to be approached with caution and sampled at length, but with over two and a half hours of material The Amazing Adventures of the Liverpool Scene weighs in as pretty good value for money as far as Hughesy's concerned.

Your own mileage, of course, may vary.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Neil Young & The International Harvesters "A Treasure"

Your mileage regarding the accuracy of the title may vary, and while I'm firmly in the anything Neil does is worth a couple of listens camp my personal reaction to A Treasure would be to relabel this live compilation from 1985 An Interesting Diversion.

Now, I may be wrong but my understanding of Young's modus operandi runs something like this.

He'll spend some time quietly going around his business on the yacht, the Broken Arrow ranch or wherever he happens to be, and in the process he'll come up with a number of tunes that'll be recorded some time around a full moon in a sort of see how these work in this particular setting approach.

From there he'll take a look at what he's got to figure out how it might translate into an album. When he's got the album together he'll do something about touring behind it, though there's no guarantee that the tour setting will reflect what happened on the album.

The touring bit, as far as I can see, is what pays the bills and keeps the wages bill around the place under control.

This sort of thing is, however, the almost guaranteed to give record company executives the screaming abdabs, particularly when they've got definite ideas about what their artists should be doing. That scenario had David Geffen suing Mr Young for his failure to deliver product that was recognizably Neil Young.

There's a fair chunk of the contrarian in Young's personality, and the threat of legal action to force compliance in a particular genre setting is almost guaranteed to deliver the exact opposite.

Calls for something along the lines of Harvest or an album of electric rock in other words, will result in statements of intention to record and perform nothing but country music.

That's not going to preclude anything from his earlier catalogue, of course, and setlists from the International Harvesters era would also include reworkings of songs like Country Home, Heart of Gold and Down By the River along with the Flying On the Ground Is Wrong and Are You Ready For the Country? that turn up here.

Apart from that, there's a substantial yee-haw factor in tracks like Motor City, Get Back to the Country and Southern Pacific and tracks that had turned up in other incarnations along the way, like It Might Have Been or candidates for a later reworking (Soul of a Woman, which subsequently turned up in The Bluenotes era).

Highlights include the opening Amber Jean, written for Young's infant daughter, and the closing six-minute Grey Riders but there's plenty of interesting listening along the way, though mileages on Let Your Fingers Do the Walking may vary. Young's albums rarely end up labelled as Essential, but there's almost invariably something worth investigating, as is the case here.

You may be inclined to Approach with caution, but it's definitely worth approaching (or giving an evaluatory listen).

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Randy Newman QPAC Concert Hall 22 July 2011

I must have gone awfully close to missing Randy Newman with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra at the QPAC Concert Hall after I misjudged the amount of footpath on the other side of a lamp post and found myself tumbling onto Grey Street in the face of serious oncoming traffic.

Actually, I must have gone awfully close to serious hospitalisation but nothing short of serious injury was going to stop me from actually getting there, so it was a case of a quick return to the hotel room, an improvised patching up that used up most of Madam's supply of bandaids and a change of pants before resuming the quest for pre-concert nourishment.

Whether the delay kept us out of the preferred option will never be known. The tapas bar that was the preferred option was, as it turned out, a case of needing a reservation by the time we arrived on the doorstep and everywhere else in the vicinity looked reasonably close to chockers. We settled for a very basic toasted sandwich and a couple of glasses of water at the cafe in the courtyard rather than the tapas and interesting wine we'd pencilled in earlier in the day.

Still, with the prospect of Randy Newman in an orchestral setting I'd have happily settled for a slice of dry bread and a cup of warm dripping if it was going to ensure entry in a situation where the tickets advised us to Please note lockout period applies. In hindsight we could have gone for something a bit flasher in the dinner department, since we were in the environs of the Concert Hall well before the doors opened.

With the possibility of backstage access after the show I wanted something other than a ticket to get signed, and in the absence of anything resembling a program I shelled out for a copy of 12 Songs, the only Randy album I didn't have on CD or as a download from iTunes.

Actually, I would have had it as a download but bucked at the prospect of paying $16.99 for just under thirty minutes of music, which I thought was over the odds.

So I spent $25 for the CD instead.

The visit to the merch booth gave me the first inkling that we were in for an interesting audience as a woman who obviously knew nothing about Randy Newman but was intent on buying something agonised over the choice between 12 Songs and the two volumes of The Randy Newman Songbook.

I politely pointed her towards Songbook, and pressed for a choice between the two suggested Volume 1, but indicated that there wasn't much in it, so the best option was to buy both.

From there we wandered around, moving gradually towards Door 10, spotting Paul Kelly in the bar on the way. The concert was part of the 2011 Queensland Music Festival, so you'd probably guess Festival Director Deborah Conway and a couple of other notable figures were also in the vicinity, but if they were we didn't notice.

Given the demographic we're looking at where long term Newman fans are concerned there was no obvious way to distinguish between those who were there for Randy Newman and those who were there because of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. There were probably a fair sprinkling of people who were only there because they'd scored free tickets, or because they'd been given tickets as a Christmas or birthday present.

Those last two categories covered the couple on my left (freebies) and in front of me (present) who knew each other, so the pre-concert conversation among four people who knew nothing outside Short People meant reactions were going to be interesting once things got underway.

Lack of a program at the merch booth was negated by one on the seat when we arrived, though, significantly, Mr & Mrs Freebie next door didn't seem to have been allocated copies. Either that or they'd quietly pushed them aside, failing to consult them. Interesting.

In any case, the program contained a setlist, rendering the notebook in the pocket surplus to requirements, and a glance at what was scheduled revealed most of the most obvious candidates for inclusion, though there were some fairly obvious omissions, two of which, of course, turned up in the encores.

From the opening Birmingham through to the final I Think It's Going To Rain Today we got a setlist that would have satisfied most Randy aficionados once you'd taken the inherent limitations of the show into account.

For a start, if you've got access to a full symphony orchestra you're going to use them, so eight solo numbers out of twenty-four seems like a pretty fair ration. Following Birmingham with a solo Short People was a nifty way of getting the most obvious suspect out of the way early in the piece, and the introduction to Girls In My Life should've convinced the classical types in the audience that they weren't getting just another hack writer of pop songs.

Long time fans, of course, are only too aware that Newman could probably do a reasonable line in theatrical comedy, and the explanation of the song's origin that preceded The World Isn't Fair reinforced that impression, as did the intro to I Miss You (I wrote this for my first wife while married to my second).

If there was going to be a departure from the printed setlist it could only come in one of the solo slots, so while the program said Kingfish slotting in Mama Told Me Not To Come before Love Story, Marie and You Can Leave Your Hat On delivered a rather nifty overview of early Randy before the audience participation on I'm Dead (But I Don't Know It).

A glance at the lyrics of I'm Dead leaves a fair indication it's aimed firmly at those survivors of the seventies who are still going through the motions, delivering the same old schtick but Randy's introduction pulled no punches before he coached the audience through our role, one which we (and the members of the orchestra) allegedly enjoyed too much in the delivery.

The Great Nations of Europe was suitably stirring, and while I wasn't familiar with I Love To See You Smile (subsequent research reveals it's from the soundtrack to Parenthood and apparently unavailable in any legitimate way shape or form, so that's hardly surprising) I wasn't upset by the inclusion. Yes, I know it kept something else out of the setlist, but it was a fairly natural lead into the instrumental suites from Toy Story and The Natural, which had conductor Guy Noble skipping off stage, leaving Newman the baton.

Not being a movie person I wasn't familiar with most of what followed before and after the half-way break, having seen Toy Story with a major hangover one breaking up day and having missed The Natural, Maverick and Avalon. I'm not overly familiar with the likes of Aaron Copland either, so while he's one reference point quoted for Randy's soundtrack work I can't comment.

What was obvious over the twenty-plus minutes was that Newman knows his way around a conductor's baton (hardly surprising since he's conducted the orchestral segments of his soundtrack work) and the four suites worked pretty well by themselves without accompanying visuals or the oh yeah, that's from the bit where familiarity with the movies involved.

Comments from my left at the end of the interval revealed Newman newcomers who'd been highly impressed, and with the Maverick and Avalon Suites out of the way, it was back to solo mode for It's Money That I Love before things were slowed down for In Germany Before The War and Cowboy with the Orchestra adding light and shade. Dixie Flyer kicked things up a notch, Better Off Dead dropped it back slightly, and You've Got A Friend In Me was preceded by an apology for leaving it so late and a suggestion that kids in the audience could be woken up.

The main set concluded with a magnificent Sail Away, Emotional Girl, a Political Science that produced the predictable reaction to we'll save Australia and a Louisiana that would've resounded rather deeply with many in the audience after the floods earlier in the year. It brought me to the verge of tears, anyway.

The absence of obvious suspects Lonely At The Top and I Think It's Going To Rain Today from the program was explained when they appeared as the encores, and while I suspect the crowd would have happily gone on clamouring for more Rain was preceded by a definite ruling that there'd be no more.

Madam sighted the First Aid station on the way out, and we managed to get the injuries from the fall earlier in the evening patched, a process that lasted long enough for most of the crowd to disperse so there was no chance to gauge the audience response around the merchandise booth (I didn't get that far during the interval either) and we made our way downstairs in search of the Stage Door where we found our names on the list for backstage access.

Having received a couple of passes we settled down to wait, passing some of the time in conversation with a couple from the Sunshine Coast and their daughter who were waiting on the off-chance of an Anthony Warlow autograph.

As it turned out everyone ended up disappointed. Warlow, Randy and any other backstage dignitaries all managed to escape through an alternate egress, something that was understandable given a bloke who's sneaking up on seventy, had delivered a good two-and-a-bit hour show, had spent two days in rehearsal and was probably coming off jet lag as well. Madam suspected that there was a touch of something else in there as well as he seemed to struggle a little when it came to hitting the high notes.

In any case, if you'd asked me twelve months ago I'd have told you I'd never expect to get the chance to see Randy in a live setting, and if the opportunity eventuated it'd probably be a solo gig, so everything beyond that was a bonus...

The setlist:

Set I:
Birmingham (Orchestra)
Short People
Girls In My Life
The World Isn't Fair (Orchestra)
I Miss You (Orchestra)
Mama Told Me Not To Come
Love Story (Orchestra)
Marie (Orchestra)
You Can Leave Your Hat On
I'm Dead
Great Nations of Europe (Orchestra)
I Love To See You Smile (Orchestra)
Toy Story Suite (Orchestra, Randy conducting)
The Natural Suite (Orchestra, Randy conducting)

Set II:
Maverick Suite (Orchestra, Randy conducting)
Avalon Suite (Orchestra, Randy conducting)
It's Money That I Love
In Germany Before The War (Orchestra)
Cowboy (Orchestra)
Dixie Flyer
Better Off Dead (Orchestra)
You've Got A Friend In Me (Orchestra)
Sail Away (Orchestra)
Emotional Girl (Orchestra)
Political Science
Louisiana (Orchestra)

Lonely At The Top (Orchestra)
I Think It's Going To Rain Today (Orchestra)

Sunday, June 19, 2011

R.I.P. Clarence Clemons

It's ironic that news of the passing of 69-year-old E Street Band saxophoist Clarence Clemons arrived in the midst of rumours of a new Bruce Springsteen album and speculation as to whether it would feature the E Street Band or show new material in a different setting.

On the strength of The Ghost of Tom Joad, Devils and Dust and The Seeger Sessions it's possible to imagine Springsteen without the E Street Band, but I find it impossible to imagine the E Street Band without Clarence Clemons.

While Clemons had worked in other settings with, among others, Ringo Starr, Jackson Browne, Aretha Franklin and Lady Gaga, it's hard to imagine any of that happening if it hadn't been for a legendary encounter on the Jersey Shore that may or may not have happened quite the way the participants tell it, but if it didn't go down that way it should have.

Actually, the way it should have been factor goes well back before thatr. A much younger Clarence allegedly wanted an electric train set for Christmas but his fish merchant father bought him an alto sax and arranged lessons.

Forced to practice in the back room of the fish shop while his peers were playing baseball, Clarence wasn't a happy camper but switched to baritone for a stint in his high school's jazz band before his uncle gave him a record by R&B tenor player King Curtis. which didn't quite seal his fate, but was a vital factor in the way things turned out.

A music and football scholarship took Clemons to college in Maryland and a sociology major landed him a job in Newark, New Jersey counselling disturbed youths. In the bars and clubs along the Jersey Shore he worked with bands like Norman Seldin and the Joyful Noyze before the dark and stormy night that took him from the Wonder Bar to a place called The Student Prince, where he sat in with a scrawny kid called Bruce Springsteen on Spirit in the Night. Whether the door actually blew off the club that night doesn't matter. If it didn't, it should have.

Anyone familiar the gatefold sleeves of the first two Springsteen albums, densely packed with lyrics in fine print can't help noticing the trimming down that occurred on Born to Run and subsequent albums, but after two less than spectacularly successful albums, number three was, to all intents and purposes, crunch time.

And when you look at the front cover of Born to Run, what do you see? A grinning Springsteen leaning against someone. Turn to the back and you'll spot that the someone is a largish Afro-American wearing a black hat and playing a sax.

The word about Springsteen had been out for a while, largely based on his strengths as a live performer rather than the records, good though they might have been. There were a myriad of new Dylans out there, but there weren't too many that sparked off huge ex-college footballers homking on a tenor sax, were there?

Anyone who's seen the video footage that turned up on the box sets that celebrated the 30th anniversaries of Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town will be all too aware of Clemons' importance as the man mountain visual counterpoint to the energetic front man. As Springsteen hopped and bopped Clarence anchored the visuals on stage right the same way Garry Tallent's bass anchored the music.

The Springsteen phenomenon was built on the strength of the live performances between Born to Run and Darkness, fuelled by the recording standoff as Springsteen sorted out his issues with former manager Mike Appel. No new record? Well, play the songs anyway. Need to get the word out? Well there are these FM stations that'll broadcast the sold out shows from medium sized venues like San Francisco's Winterland. Bootleggers, roll those tapes!

It'd be easy to run on from there, telling much the same story as the flood of newspaper and magazine obituaries, the disappointment when Springsteen put E Street on ice in 1989, the collaborations and side projects, the 1999 reunion tour and subsequent albums, how much he contributed to, say, Spirit in the Night, Rosalita, Born to Run and Jungleland, all of which went on to become staples in the E Street live set as Springsteen developed into the stature that allowed him to sell out multiple nights in stadium sized venues…

But if you're not familiar with the man, his stature and his contribution to post-seventies rock, I'd point you right here and rest my case.

Born in Norfolk, Virginia on 11 January 1942, Clemons suffered a massive stroke at his Florida home on June 12 and despite hospitalization and subsequent brain surgery, departed this life on 18 June 2011.

Rest in peace, Big Man.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tedeschi Trucks Band Enmore Theatre Sydney 21 April 2011

I guess there are plenty of couples facing down the old problem of dual careers and a growing family, and there are all sorts of workarounds to tackle the issue, but when the dual careers involve reasonably high profile musicians with existing and more or less separate careers the logical solution is to find a way to merge them.

That mightn't have been the actual starting point that led to the formation of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, but I suspect that it was there lurking under the surface as things sorted themselves out. After all it's not as if Derek Trucks doesn't have one eye on the future.

Other people would probably have used the money differently, but Derek put his earnings from two years on the road with Eric Clapton's touring band into the construction of Swamp Raga Studios in the back yard of his Jacksonville home, and while 2009's Already Free was recorded there, one album every couple of years probably doesn't rate as a reasonable return on investment unless you see it as part of a substantial learning curve an artist can afford to indulge himself in.

Trucks is on record as saying that he's learning the tricks of the studio as he goes along, so while the need to combine separate careers mightn't have been the starting point, it may well have been a case of discovering that, Hey, this works pretty well as a couple of tracks were being laid down.

From the initial decision to combine the talents of two artists who are significant attractions in their own rights, of course, the problem is one of differentiating the new lineup from the previous configurations of two separate bands. For a while there it seemed like things were working from a try it and see combination of the old Derek Trucks Band and the former Susan Tedeschi Band, but eventually things had to settle down.

A look at the new look Tedeschi Trucks Band reveals two survivors from the former DTB (keys/flute wiz Kofi Burbridge and vocalist Mike Mattison) and one member of the STB (drummer Tyler Greenwell) along with a couple of not exactly surprising enlistments.

The chief of those is bassist Oteil Burbridge, who, apart from providing a strongly grooved anchor provides a visual counterpoint to the invariably undemonstrative Derek Trucks.

With the lineup sorted it becomes a matter of repertoire, and here again the obvious approach would be to take a bit from here, a bit from there and glue the disparate elements together with some newer material, the sort of thing you could work up as you go along.

That's not, however, the way things have gone here. While there are a couple of covers, notably the old Leon Russell/Joe Cocker Space Captain, which I've personally found almost invariably underwhelming and Sing A Simple Song (which worked a treat for Sly & The Family Stone, roared along nicely for Jeff St John and roared along wonderfully here) most of the rest of the set was new, presumably purpose created material, the best of which was the Mike Mattison penned Midnight In Harlem.

The release of Revelator, the first Tedeschi Trucks Band studio album would clarify a few minor matters like song titles through the rest of the set, but from the opening Bound For Glory, everything thundered through just fine, with repeated solos from Mr Trucks producing roars of approval from a crowd who were, presumably, there with a reasonable expectation of what they were likely to get.

And if they weren't there for Derek and Susan, they'd have had high expectations of the opening set from Robert Randolph & The Family Band, who would, more than likely, have stolen the show from any act short of potential superstar status.

If you'd gone straight from Live at the Wetlands to last year's We Walk This Road you might well have suspected that those long passages of high intensity sacred steel virtuously had been relegated to the background, but that approach to things probably has limited appeal as a commercial recorded proposition anyway.

If you want that lengthy high intensity instrumental thing, of course, once you've got Wetlands you possibly don't need too much more, and if you do there are plenty of live recordings over there at, so there's a definite need to do something different with the studio recordings, which have turned out doing a pretty good job of slotting Randolph into the evolving tradition of Afro-American music.

 In the live setting the opening We Walk This Road, complete with growled Blind Willie Johnson lead in (I'm not a big fan of that sort of thing normally, but in this setting it really works) led off towards the desired direction, maybe not for as long as you'd have preferred but the intensity was there.

The March and Ted's Jam both got airings as the Family Band went through their paces at a thunderous roar.

Which brings me to the one major disappointment of the night, and it affected both bands.

Now when you go to a Robert Randolph or Derek Trucks show, you're almost invariably there for extended high volume guitar workouts, but you do like to hear a bit of light and shade, and you do like to be able to discern what's going on vocally.

Maybe it was the venue, possibly it was my seat in the upper tier, but whatever it was the vocals were more than a tad on the muddy side, which wasn't such a problem during the numbers but definitely became an issue when spoken patter between songs came into play.

But, in the long run, it's about the music rather than the patter, and while the vocals could have been clearer the instrumental work through both sets was quite sublime. It's a high volume, high intensity sublimity, particularly when Derek cuts loose with those swathes of sheeting squalling slide soundaramas that are his trademark, but each and every solo brought roars of approval from a crowd obviously enjoying what they were actually there for.

As for the rest of the band, Susan Tedeschi makes a fine visual focus at the front, that semi-demure school librarian appearance contrasting nicely with a vocal intensity that would have satisfied most Janis Joplin fans.

But where, in Joplin's case, there was a tendency to screech when she headed for the heights, Susan's voice is smoothly melismatic as she heads for the upper register, and, as stated, the intensity when she really gets into it, as she did on That Did It (at least I think it was That Did It, based on a single hearing during the Allman Brothers' Beacon Theatre run last month) contrasts nicely with the librarian next door appearance.

Oteil Burbridge pinned things down nicely on the bass, contributed a vocal on Manic Depression and delivered a visual counterpoint on stage left, while brother Kofi's keyboard contributions, largely delivered from the darkness on the edge of stage left, contributed light and shade, filling in any holes in the sonic spectrum.

Throw in some interesting percussive interplay between drummers Tyler Greenwell and J.J. Johnson and the vocal harmonies from Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers and you’ve got a combo with plenty of sonic variables to play around with. It’s early days yet, but I’m sure there’s a lot to be revealed as things knit together in an outfit that’s stunningly good already and is only going to get better.

Suggestions that Robert Randolph would be joining the band come encore time failed to materialise, though that may have been due to an unannounced or unexpected visit from Warren Haynes, also in the country for Bluesfest, who came out to contribute to an energetic reading of the old Delaney & Bonnie Comin' Home.

With Revelator out in early June, I’m looking forward to further revelations...

Tedeschi Trucks Band "Revelator" (5*)

Tedeschi Trucks Band "Revelator" (5*)

I'm well and truly past the stage where I expect to have my mind blown by someone's latest release, so if my reaction to this very classy debut by a great band seems somewhat restrained don't let that fool you.

As is the case with Robert Randolph, there's a slight issue when a guitar-slinger noted for extended high intensity soloing hits the studio, and those looking for the trademark Trucks shredding exercise may well be disappointed here. The solos are there, of course, but they're carefully melded into a mix that shares the spotlight around. Understandable when you've got a vocalist of the calibre of Susan Tedeschi, and it's not as if the rest of the outfit lack class.

The result is, in many ways, rather similar to a really good bottle of red wine, and organic red wine at that. The album definitely feels like something that's been very carefully put together with attention to light and shade so there's always something interesting going on.

Kicking off with Come See About Me (no, not the Holland Dozier Holland hit for The Supremes) the dozen collaboratively-written tracks (thirteen if you opt for the iTunes version) deliver a succession of grooves that will form a pretty good platform for expansion in the live setting.

Highlights? Well, start with Midnight in Harlem and Bound For Glory, the horns at the start of Until You Remember reminded me of Allen Toussaint's horn arrangements for The Band's Rock of Ages, and the hidden track tucked in after Shelter's pretty tasty, but the best summary of the album comes in the video take on Learn How To Love, with the band in action in Swamp Raga Studios. A collective effort that's been carefully assembled by a highly talented outfit who look to be having plenty of fun doing it.
Needless to say I'll be looking forward to the next one.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

J. Geils Band The J. Geils Band (4*)

J. Geils Band The J. Geils Band (4*)
Although I'm a long-time lover of 1972's Live: Full House, it took quite a while for Hughesy to catch up on the rest of the J. Geils Band's back catalogue, at least as far as the CD versions are concerned, and possibly if I hadn't seen this self-titled first album in Kobe's Tower Records I mightn't have started.
$16.99 for eleven tracks that clock in at a tad over 33 minutes might seem pretty steep if you're looking at iTunes, but if it ever turns up with an el cheapo sticker in a CD store you could do a lot worse than this initial collection of tasty trimmed down old style R&B. Sure, it doesn't burn with the same intensity of Live: Full House, which repeats more than half of this material in a concert setting, but nothing is likely to match that album's eight track punch. Hughesy's suggestion for would-be R&B fans? Start here, proceed through The Morning After ($16.90) and end on Live: Full House, marvelling at the difference the concert setting makes.
Assuming you can locate copies with the el cheapo sticker, of course.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2 (4.5*) (and Vol. 1 as a catch up)

Having been on board since 1972's Sail Away, and with at least two copies of most items in the man's discography under the buying belt, the appearance of The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 1 back in 2003 was one of those events that was noted in passing with an I'll get around to buying that some day, and if that some day turned out to be around eight years later there are some cogent reasons behind the delay.

I mean, who really needs another version of some great songs when there's not that much variation in lyrical content, and the new versions are virtually a straight vocals and piano run through tracks that, largely, you already know and love deeply?

A look at the tracklist reveals a couple of instrumentals I didn't already have, but when it comes down to tin tacks I wasn't sure that I needed another Louisiana 1927 when I've already got the original version on Good Old Boys, along with another couple in various guises.

I mean, there's nothing new about most of the material and nothing significantly different about the arrangements once you've stripped away the orchestrations and removed the likes of Ry Cooder and Jim Keltner from the recording studio.

Actually, as it turns out, I do.

With the southern road trip out of the way our next travel gig is a trip south in July to catch Mr Newman in concert with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and with The Randy Newman Songbook Vol. 2 as the featured disk on The Planet, I couldn't help reflecting on how marvellously well Randy does the man at the piano bit.

For long term fans, of course, there's nothing here to blow your socks off apart from those wonderful songs and a wry performance that comes remarkably close to the ambience of having the man tinkling the ivories right there beside you in your living room or wherever you happen to be listening.

But, when it all comes down to it, it's all about the songs and after more than forty years hasn't he come up with some absolute crackers?

Lonely At The Top, God's Song (That's Why I Love Mankind), Louisiana 1927, Living Without You, I Think It's Going to Rain Today, You Can Leave Your Hat On, Marie, Sail Away, The World Isn't Fair, Political Science and The Great Nations Of Europe

And that's just the edited highlights of Volume 1...

Of course, with those already done first time around, things drop off slightly for Volume 2, but there's still Dixie Flyer, the once lightweight but increasingly relevant Yellow Man, Losing You, My Life Is Good, Birmingham and Last Night I Had a Dream.

And it's not as if he doesn't have the material to make a decent third volume, and that's without Hughesy's long-hoped-for reworking of his earliest material, largely written for other voices.

He''s still got room for, say, Davy the Fat Boy, I Want Everybody to Like Me, Love Story, Mama Told Me Not To Come and Rider In The Rain for starters, and I'd love to hear what he could do revisiting I've Been Wrong Before, Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear and, most particularly, So Long Dad.

If you've already got the albums or the Guilty: 30 Years of Randy Newman box set, the two Songbook Volumes might not seem essential, but if you're new to the man and his music or only know the name from his movie soundtrack work or Short People they're a bloody good place to start acquainting yourself with one of the all-time great songwriters.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Elvis Costello & The Imposters State Theatre Sydney 19 April 2011

There may be someone out there who's still labouring under the delusion that this rock'n'roll caper is essentially a young man's game, but if there is, he or she definitely wasn't at Sydney's State Theatre last Tuesday.

While two and a bit hours of Elvis and The Imposters mightn't have burnt with the incandescent rage that fueled shows in the Angry Young Man period, there was passion aplenty running right through the opening straight from one to the next salvo of I Hope You're Happy Now, Tear Off Your Own Head, High Fidelity, Uncomplicated, and Either Side of the Same Town.

Elvis poured it out, Davey Farragher's bass threatened the foundations of the building, Steve Nieves burbled away adding punctuation on keyboards and Pete Thomas was, well, Pete Thomas on drums. He mightn't be the most physical drummer in the universe, but if that's the case you wouldn't want to be that other bloke's kit (unless, of course, you're a masochist who's into serious and sustained pummelling).

That probably comes as no news to anyone who's experienced the electric Elvis before, but, given geographic isolation and financial issues, this was the first time I'd experienced the glorious racket with serious intent that is Costello and The Imposters.

In between songs towards the end some bloke down the front interjected "Get serious, Elvis!", prompting a muttered "This is f-cking serious" and another sonic assault on the senses.

Things slowed down a tad for a funky Everyday I Write The Book, an impassioned workout through New Lace Sleeves (lazy writing, that, just about everything on offer was impassioned, but it's the best I can come up with at the moment and, a week later that's still the case so it looks like it'll be staying) and a Watching The Detectives that rocked out without going into total guitar effect overload. Turpentine didn't quite lift the paint off the Gothic, Italian and Art Deco influenced Heritage listed structure, but must have gone close.

We got a bit of light and shade in the form of Good Year For The Roses, Momofuku's Flutter and Wow and The Spell That You Cast before  Oliver's Army, I Don't Want To Go To Chelsea, Beyond Belief, which almost was, a raucous blast of Clubland, and Stella Hurt to finish off the main set.

Pre-show discussions about the set list had predicted an acoustic solo mini-set somewhere along the way, which is the way the encores started. A chatty introduction was followed by a warm reading of Jimmy Standing In The Rain, before bringing out the Secret Sisters to provide harmonies on Slow Drag With Josephine.

Their opening set had delivered a charming batch of retro country numbers, and if their contributions to Josephine seemed a little tentative, Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do? showed off both the Sisters' delicious harmonies and Costello's long held but hardly secret bent towards the country end of the spectrum.

The Sisters gone, out came The Imposters along with one of Costello's favourite guitars for a seated stroll through Luxembourg, before the volume and intensity went back through the roof for Monkey To Man and I Hope.

A seventeen number main set followed by a five song encore would, under normal circumstances be about par for the course for most acts, but we're talking Costello here, and the man's known for multiple rather than single encores, so they were back out for another go, starting with a rocking and substantially rewritten National Ransom, which ran more or less straight into a rumbustious King of America and a predictable final one-two punch (as one was needed by this stage!) of Pump It Up and What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?

Elvis Costello & The Imposters
State Theatre Sydney 19 April 2011

I Hope You're Happy Now
Tear Off Your Own Head (It's a Doll Revolution)
High Fidelity
Either Side of the Same Town
Everyday I Write The Book
New Lace Sleeves
Watching The Detectives
Good Year For The Roses
Flutter & Wow
Spell That You Cast
Oliver's Army
I Don't Want to Go To ChelSea
beyond Belief
Stella Hurt

Jimmie Standing In The Rain (solo)
Slow Drag With Josephine (with Secret Sisters, no Imposters)
Why Don't You Love Me Like You Used To Do (with Secret Sisters, no Imposters)
Monkey To Man
I Hope

2nd Encore:
National Ransom
Pump It Up
What's So Funny About Peace Love and Understanding?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Nick Lowe Labour of Lust

Nick Lowe Labour of Lust (4.5*)
While the rest of the album doesn't quite measure up to the opening one two punch of Cruel To Be Kind and Crackin' Up, this very welcome reissue of Nick Lowe's second solo album is a timely reminder of just how good a band the Lowe and Dave Edmunds-fronted Rockpile was. His first album, Jesus of Cool carried the alternative title of Pure Pop for Now People, which mightn't quite be the case thirty-two years after this album's original release (after all, we're hardly Now People any more) but as an exercise in Pure Pop this one goes down just fine and will rapidly be making its way through Hughesy's numbered playlists. Won't be long till that opening salvo is in the upper reaches of Hughesy's Top 1500 Most Played.
Note to Self: You need more Nick Lowe!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Allman Brothers Band Beacon Theatre New York 25 March 2011

In the normal run of things I could well have been tempted to spend more than an hour and a half in the garden this Sunday morning, but Moogis considerations overruled my personal aversion to the political guest on ABC-TV's Insiders program. Moogis factors may well have come into play with the newly established Last Sunday of the Month lunchtime gathering, but one of the other participants came to the rescue and that little gathering has been reshuffled into the following week.

The normal Sunday routine around the Little House of Concrete (weather permitting, which hasn't always been the case over the past two months as the Big Wet proves to be bigger and longer lasting than usual) involves an hour and a half to two hours' gardening, followed by a shower and pasta carbonara while the TV runs through Insiders and its sporting equivalent, Offsiders

Today, given the amount of unfinished business in the yard and the political guest on Insiders I could easily have extended the session towards the three hour mark, but that would have raised severe timing issues for the thirteenth and final night of what has been a thoroughly enjoyable Beacon run, which will hopefully, include Blind Willie McTellAin't Wastin' Time No MoreOld Before My Time and Walk On Gilded Splinters with a Whipping Post to round things off nicely.

I've also seen a suggestion that today marks the band's 42nd birthday, so maybe there's another something special in the offing. To some, something special would be a reunion of the current ABB with one Richard Forrest Betts, and while you'd possibly hope that bygones could effectively be rendered bygones I'm hoping things don't work out that way due to the restrictions it might place on the setlist.

As we pass 10:30 it must be getting close to starting time, and rising audience prompts a switch to full screen mode.

ABB logo, off-mic comments. Rattle of percussion. Given some piano tinkling I'm tipping Ain't Wastin' Time No More as the opener.

10:31 There's no place like home on screen. Then 200th show, so I guess that's official. ABB logo. No reference to any 42nd anniversary. 

10:32 Hot 'Lanta

10:38 No visitors, but Madam's decided to watch the first set since it's the last show of the run.

Ain't Wastin' Time No More, which I reckoned was just about due.

10:45 Midnight Rider

10:50 Every Hungry Woman. That's the three Gregg vocals opening salvo, so next? Warren vocal or instrumental? Actually, Gregg's looking really on the ball tonight. Hope I haven't put the mocker on proceedings by mentioning it.

10:56 Derek and Warren firing off each other quite magnificently. By the expression I just spotted Butch likes it as well.

10:59 Walking bass intro, swinging drum patterns. Instrumental time? Or Rockin' Horse again? I'm inclined to dismiss the latter possibility due to inclusion in yesterday's show, but you can never tell with ABBs.

11:08 Was that an And I Love Her tease?

11:15 So that's the long instrumental out of the way. No idea which one it was. Hopefully by this time next year I'll have remedied the inability to spot which one's which. 

11:16 "Well, how ya doin' out there?" precedes the introduction of a number of guests, including Hook Herrera on harp, Bruce Katz on piano and Hubert Sumlin on guitar. Smokestack Lightnin'. Hubert's on oxygen, obviously frail, but he's pushing eighty after a life of doing it hard, so it's good to see him, even if he's starting to fade.  Subsequent research reveals he's operating on one lung, so I guess he’s doing rather well to be there at all.

11:23 Key to the Highway

11:26 Signal drops out. Out and back in. Getting back always takes a bit of time, and while I'm waiting I pause to ponder this sort of guest spot. There's a substantial drop in intensity, which is understandable under the circumstances, but it's good to see influences and predecessors being acknowledged, and this spot is better placed in relation to the whole show than last Saturday's Cowboy interlude.

The Cowboy bit came after Melissa, which isn't the greatest restarter in the ABB canon despite its regular appearance as such, and was followed by a Dreams with a Warren rather than Derek solo, which probably explains Hughesy's view of the sequence. Here, you've got twenty minutes to the break, with the possibility of a storming finish after a slight respite.

That, of course, depends on what comes next. Hubert gets two name-checks on his way off stage, which confirms the respect, and Warren introduces Dr John, which, predictably, has Hughesy anticipating Walk On Gilded Splinters.

11:28 Walk On Gilded Splinters it is, but the Dr John Gris Gris percussive version rather the pounding driving version we usually get. As a result there's a hesitancy, sort of like a shirt that doesn't quite fit, but if you're going to have Dr John sit in and do his song you're more or less obliged to do it his way, n'est ce pas?

11:35 Come On Part 1 or Let The Good Times Roll or whatever title you want to use for this New Orleans classic. Works slightly better since everybody's on the same playing field (here's one we all know, rather than one where there's two different approaches). That's my take on things anyway.

11:42 In the Right Place. Susan and another backing vocalist on stage, Derek's side, and obviously having a ball. Young Mr van deer Bogert's managed to sneak in there on drums as well.

11:50 Break time. Drop the feed for twenty minutes or so, faced with polite restraint in bandwidth consumption and the expectation that we'd be getting the interview segments over again. Think about a snack at (more or less) lunch time, but had a substantial brunch and decide against it.

11:22 Dreams. Two nights in a row as the restart. I'm not complaining about this at all, particularly if we get the usual scorching Derek solo.

12:33 Black Hearted Woman. Gregg mangles the first verse, but things proceed reasonably well thereafter.

12:48 Hook Herrera and Bruce Katz back. Who's Been Talkin'? Dunno, but whoever it was, and whatever they've said, Derek's absolutely on fire. 

1:00 "We'd like to say thank you everybody for coming to our party. This is David Grissom on guitar here."

It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry. Nice reading.

1:07 One Way Out.

1:14 Note the second set of keyboards still in place over on stage left.

1:15 And there's the reason why. Bruce Katz back for Jessica.

1:25 There are those Mountain Jam teases again.

1:31 Well, I guess that's it for the second set. OK, so what's the finale? I figure we've got around twenty-five minutes, so I've got my fingers crosses, hoping for an epic Whipping Post, which probably means we'll get You Don't Love Me.

1:35 Electric exploration of the Little Martha theme, with Derek and Warren, drums sneak in, and then that familiar twisting, turning and churning bass line. Whipping Post.

1:53 "Thank you." Is that it? Looks that way, with seven minutes to go till midnight. "thank y'all so much. Good luck. God bless ya."

Little Martha