Hard Again - Muddy Waters - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #36

Ah, the “comeback album.” Any musician with a prolonged career will no doubt have this unlovely tag attached to one of their albums following a lackluster effort. But at least the word “comeback” (“I hate that word! It’s a return”) recognizes there was once talent; that the artist has rediscovered their old genius. And what better way to make a so-called comeback album than to make the boldest, rawest album you’ve ever made?  Just look at Muddy on that cover; hands in his waistcoat, grinning with a superbly macho look. You can almost hear him call out “yes ladies, it’s me. I’m back.” The cover and the title positively ooze raw masculinity. Hard Again? Is it an innuendo or not? I don’t think it matters; either way, you know this music is going to be badass.

An urgent plea for help.

As Steven’s friends and family, we put this urgent plea on his blog to his readers. If anyone knows where Steven is, please contact us immediately and notify us of his whereabouts. He disappeared on the night of the Brit awards leaving only this cryptic message on a piece of paper in distressed handwriting.

“And the winner is... Adele, and the losers are us.”

"I've been lovin' this guitar, seems a long long time" IN SEARCH OF SPACE #45

An artistic muse is a hard thing to come by and a terrible thing to lose. My muse is of course my woman, nah it isn’t really; my inspiration for putting pen to paper (or more often fingers to keyboard) is the continuing spiral of obscene banality which is constantly plumbing hitherto unknown depths of total artless tedium. That’s what normally gets my juices flowing (the juice in question being bile). Randy Holden had a muse; no better or worse than any other; his muse was his guitar. He wrote it languid beautiful love songs and co-performed them with the guitar in question. His theory presumably being if his object of love and affection and spirit-vessel were an object rather than a person with all of their flaws and independence, he’d never have to worry about losing his muse or his music. Of course, the music industry couldn’t let a razor-sharp guitar visionary scaling rarely-climbed heights of electric wizardry nirvana continue to do so lest he liberate all the squares with one magnificent sonic sweep; in a single breath making realisations occur that money is paper, most jobs are pointless, we do too much complaining and not enough loving; sunshine, friends, fermented fruit sugar drinks and Sunn amplified sound waves are cheap; whereas fibreglass-and-chrome shopping centres, missiles and cathedrals are expensive – not in a bread sense, in a spiritual sense. This would be bad for the kind of uptight three-dimensional eight-corner squares who profit off the backbreaking labour of building a cathedral, the blood spilled by the missile and the paper handed over in exchange for tiny useless objects in shopping centres. The powers at be contrived to pull on Randy Holden one of the most despicably conceived and remorselessly executed fuck-overs in the history of recorded sound: they took away his guitar.

"And now some more trash for you" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #44

OR :- one more kid that’ll never get to go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.
Yes, today I’ll be talking about Neil Young. Can’t get much more mainstream, he’s one of the names that inevitably appears within weeks of becoming a musiphile on the road to rock and roll enlightenment. You’ve probably all got at least a greatest hits and any of his records will offer up something worth hearing, particularly if your ears are virgin. But I’m not here to talk to you about well-known artists that get their own section in even the shittiest back-street music shop (for the record, the backer the street, the more superb the music store generally). I’m here to alert you to some of the rarer Neil Young slices and have come today with just one question: What the fuck happened to this extremely righteous but generally non-heavy dude in the early nineties to turn him into the kind of nuclear-blast wielding hirsute mind-melder that puts together a blistering two hour live album, best Dylan and give us one of the best pieces of heavy music of all time? I am of course discussing the Arc/Weld workout and the magnificent Dead Man soundtrack, which stands as a stomping fire-breathin’ hundredfoot colossus among any delegation of music previously considered heavy; this shit makes Sabbath sound like Abba. Originally this began as one of my 3am introspective nightmare delusions, a long dark Edinburgh night of the soul with Dead Man soundtrack running on repeat and on its fourth spin; listening to William Blake as read by Johnny Depp with a clattering caterwauling katzenjamma of genius running behind it like a train (difficult childhood, difficult childhood, difficult childhood), and I was possessed with the notion to fling open my front door and yell down at whatever poor unenlightened fucker wasn’t listening to the Dead Man soundtrack at eight hundred decibels: “these lyrics are genius! Fucking genius!” but alas, there was no one there to hear my yelpings, fuckers.

Volume Two "Echos hypnotiques" - From the Vaults of Albarika Store 1969-1979 - Orchestre Poly-Rhythmo De Cotonou - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #35

[Note - please Adam make shorter titles next time - Ed.]

Given the correct environment, with the correct influences at the correct time, some very powerful musical transformations can occur. Look at rock music, for example, developing from raucous blues, gospel and folk music in the black community and being made possible with the utilization of the relatively new electric guitar. Or punk, where groups of disparate musicians decided to distance themselves from the growing self-indulgence of rock n’ roll and strip down their sound to the bare bones. Such movements and music are born as much through circumstance as through the individual’s decisions, and in situations where there are multiple influences and utilization of different styles, the music can go to some very exciting and interesting places. Orchestre-Poly Rhythmo De Cotonou is to me a fantastic example of this.

"And it won't be long 'till we all sing along" - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #43

Glasgow three-piece Haight-Ashbury, named after the San Fran crossroads that witnessed the birth of the hippie movement and was at one point or another the place of residence of anyone who was anyone in the West Coast acid culture. I get chills just thinking about how stunningly righteous that place must have been for seven years between 65 and 72. We were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave, as HST communicated, it was a very special time on the west coast, heartbreakingly conveyed, it is the kind of high that never comes again. Many bands have attempted to close on that kind of acid sixties vibe; the supreme sonic throne on which you can get just as high without drugs as with them. Intentions are important to me, and if you set out with a volume trio baptised with the title of the nexus junction that was the birthplace of the sixties, you better have some baked potato-sized balls, and a sonic hammer to match that you’re willing to bring down on any braying non-believers. You better be fucking serious. Good thing then that Haight-Ashbury are every bit as sumptuously superb as that name deserves. Again, like my Sobre a Máquina conversation, this will be a retrospective of a somewhat-recent album (2010), but there is a new Haight-Ashbury record due in March if you’re the kind of obsequious little devil who can’t function outside of the four-month rule, we also have a little something special planned; audio interview and pictures from their Edinburgh date on the 7th of March, so look forward to that. So expect another two articles about these guys, and they deserve every bit. I have a feeling that I’ll be disappointed with meeting them though, running this beast through my stereo countless times has rendered me to imagine them as a trio of shoeless hippies stuck somewhere between the front row of a Jefferson Airplane-headlined Matrix and setting off for the hippy trail or New York state for that ’69 festival of peace and music; shoeless and stoned in Golden Gate Park, that’s how I imagine them. It’ll be sad to see them have standard Glasgow accents; because the music is so utterly righteously bang-on the San Fran acid groove of Grace Slick, they must have lilting California accents... right?

Let us condemn famous death dwarves

NOTE - Adam, motivated by the same ur-righteousness that so gripped me last night also wrote a response to the utter farcical travesty of Miley Cyrus's violent 18 rated butchering of Bob Dylan. As you might expect, mine was over the top and concluded by explaining why we all ought to line up and commit seppuku; while his is thoughtful and measured and resplendent in it's excellentness.

I have calmned down now, after huffing into a paper bag for half an hour, sitting fully clothed in the shower crying and loading up on enough high grade hee-hee to slow a fright train. Anyway, love on y'all.

URGENT -- Distressing breaking news -- Emergency blog post

I've just heard the Miley Cyrus cover of Bob Dylan's superb You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go. Don't look it up, don't even give them the traffic, please trust me that it is bleach-drinkingly awful. As you might now reasonably expect I am going to have a massive bile-vent. It's nice really, because I've been becoming angry and miserable about not having enough to be angry and miserable about. I could write my usual schtick about how the recession has caused already pupae-like record executives in smartly pressed business suits that fail to hold in any soul warmth to shrink further into their crevices for fear of losing their money if a original artistic vision penetrates their subconcious, not realising that money is paper and when you die great music earns you an extra comfy bed in paradise while being the kind of moneygrubbing cynic who'd be willing to whore out their ageing mother if they thought there'd be a buck in it will land you a cramped and decrepit house made of shit and scytheblades in Hell, but I don't feel like saying that. I'll just pose a genuine question to which I'd like an answer.

100 spins later - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #42

“One of god’s own prototypes, never even considered for mass production...”

This statement will come as a huge surprise if you’re one of my close relatives and slipped into a chemically induced coma around 2005 (hey, HST shot himself). I love Sir Lord Baltimore. Sir Lord Baltimore is a name that’ll have you already smiling if you move in the right circles, but if you don’t you’ve probably never heard of them. Let me lay down some ground rules. Their first album, Kingdom Come, upon the alter of which I gladly throw myself, all my possessions and any passersby, and on which this review is focused is a white hot slice of fried gold and the physical manifestation of such gloriously repercussion-free sonic bliss that any spin becomes 37 minutes and 42 seconds of more fun than any mortal sinner has any right to have. Their second album, eponymously titled is well over the hill like Hendrix at the Isle of Wight, and their third album released in 2006 with less Gary Justin and more Christian imagery plotted exactly where you would expect it to on a graph, as the downward spiral hinted at by the total sonic failure of the second album has remained constant. Sell your spare kidney and lung to get a copy of Kingdom Come if you have to, sell your spare kidney or lung to avoid being put in the path of the tidal wave of wallpaper paste of the two follow-ups. Just thought I’d flag this up. All my upcoming comments about righteous energy, profound proto-metal riffage and a place in history refer to Kingdom Come and nothing else; Sir Lord Baltimore were a spark, a flash in the pan, never to be repeated.

Metals - Feist - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #33

Sometimes familiarity with an artist’s music and the weight of expectation can prevent our acceptance of them if they do something drastically different. A particularly fine example is that of The Rolling Stones’ perennial classic Exile on Main St. A rip-roaring stomp through raw delta blues, gospel and good old-fashioned rock-n-roll, the critics just didn’t go with it. Sure, it was good, but they didn’t see the big deal. “Where are the Stones of yesteryear?” bemoaned Playboy. Lenny Kaye of Rolling Stone said it was “slightly missing the mark.” Now, 40 years later, nobody’s saying that. To quote Keith Richards himself: “…It was also pretty much universally panned. But within a few years the people who had written the reviews saying it was a piece of crap were extolling it as the best frigging album in the world.” I find myself staring as an outsider on a similar predicament as I write today. Having never heard of Feist or heard any of her music, I came to listening to her 2011 album Metals with no preconceptions and I was blown away. Yet the professional reviews have been fair; good at best, but the album didn’t seem to have the same impact on any of them as it did on me. Why? I asked myself. Well it turns out that expectation, our old nemesis, had struck again.

Pink City break your stereo! - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #41

After a particularly bad fortnight of drinking and spending stupid amounts of money in the pursuit of such things, it was gratifying to have a slightly more subdued record to spin while I recovered, in the dark with a wet towel wrapped around my face. Pink City’s debut full-length was not something with which you’d see off a hangover, unless you wanted to give yourself a worse headache. Their latest single throttles back on all that raucous noise and brings in ever more slowed down darkness in the style of Endless Night from Designing Women. If you can’t recall that bit of the album then go out and download it immediately, I’ll wait. Got it? Good? It has even less noise than that song, really it bridges into that Joy Division Twenty-Four Hours esque groove without the warmth. And when you’re taking Joy Division and removing the warmth but dropping the same kind of pseudo-meditative spoken-word smackdown workout that hitherto couldn’t be approached, you really deserve to be bigger than Pink City currently are. You deserve billboards paid for by wealthy philanthropists with pictures of band members M and J looking sad and a tagline along the lines of “these spectral motherfuckers are storming the fort. Why haven’t you bought their record yet”. Alas this kind of humdinger is yet to achieve mass appeal and is still there to be explored by discerning heads, savour!

The Rio trio (part dos - interview) - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #40

Part one here.

Okay, so last week I had a good old rant about Brazilian trio Sobre a Máquina. I mentioned that there was an email interview incoming but I was just so stoked to bring you their music I didn’t want to wait a week, so they get two articles, as would seem to befit a band of their considerable underground stature. The interview has now arrived. Thank you Cadu for your time. And for your answers, you seem to have a knack for doing that thing people often do when English is not their first language. Stumbling upon awkwardly beautiful phrases. I’ll try to keep the pointing out of them to a minimum because every arsehole does that and it’s pretty patronising.

Songs for the Ten Voices of Two Prophets - Terry Riley - LICK MY DECALS OFF, BABY! #32

I had the immense pleasure of attending a Terry Riley concert with a few friends back in October 2010. Riley, a pioneer of the classical field of minimalism in the 1960’s, was so influential that The Who partly named their landmark song Baba O’Riley after him. Since the 60’s he appears to have lost his prominence in the field of minimalism to contemporaries like Steve Reich and Philip Glass, and at the time of the concert I was unaware of any of his work besides his most famous 60’s works In C and A Rainbow in Curved Air. In fact, I didn’t even know he still toured. I went eagerly but not enthusiastically; I really had no idea what to expect. What I experienced was truthfully the best live music experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve seen BOB DYLAN live.

Moving music to move to - IN SEARCH OF SPACE #39

Well here it is, I mentioned Wishbone Ash last week and thought it was such a good idea that I just went and wrote it. An ode to dancing really with their seminal album as a jumping-in point. On a related note, as I write this the webternet is buzzing about “Before Watchmen”, a prequel series to the stunning Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons original. Alan Moore again proves how intelligent and upstanding he is by obstinately refusing to have anything to do with the project, though it is going ahead. Not only is this a monumentally stupid idea but the origins are not even veiled as creative. This from BleedingCool – “word came down from high at Warner to exploit any and all properties in the DC remit that could make money”... I mean, this decision, blisteringly idiotic though it may be, wasn’t even made by someone who thought that the Watchmen prequels would be a nice thing for people to read. They aren’t meant to be nourishing or exciting or even fun. Watchmen was created by two men who wanted to tell a big and important political story. The original Watchmen is one of my very favourite books, and now their intellectual property, God-allegory Dr. Manhattan and all of the extremely psychologically complex cast of characters are going to be milked because some shady-suited businessman who has never created anything in his miserable empty shell of an existence wants to add another billiard hall wallpapered with banknotes to his golden money palace. Dear reader, go out and find a copy of Watchmen (a compendium is best), try to find it second-hand so that those Warner cunts don’t get any of your money and enjoy it; it’s really something else and then totally ignore the new set when they come out. It’s important to make a stand and teach money-focussed twats that we are not cattle to be milked and hammer through to their heads that IP is not ‘property’ to be owned and traded and exploited, it’s someone’s work. If you work in this kind of soulless business and you’re reading this (firstly, run a bath and after reading this, cut your wrists, save the world from your putrid filth) MONEY IS PAPER. I WIPE MY ARSE WITH PAPER. Anyway. Wishbone Ash anyone?

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