Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Even more old crap from 2006.....

Don't know where I keep digging these up from.....first written in 2006.

Sly & The Family Stone: There's A Riot Going On

Try to imagine the most fucked up, off its head album that you can? If you multiply that thought by about a hundred the answer you'll get is There's A Riot Going On; the 1971 album by Sly & The Family Stone.

By 1970, the band should have been at their creative and commercial peak. A run of top selling albums and singles had been topped off with a performance at the Woodstock music festival. However, things were far from good; the band had been missing performances and Sly was slipping into drug problems of epic proportions.

On top of that, their new album was taking forever to record.

The majority of the album was being recorded at Sly's rented LA mansion. His home had become like your worst nightmare; full of friends, hangers on, drug dealers, drug addicts, armed bodyguards and several pets. These included a vicious pit-bull and, for some reason, a baboon.

Recording sessions went on and on. Sly, often working for days on end without sleep; kept awake by a cocktail of cocaine and PCP. The bands record label, Epic had no idea what was going on at the house; recording costs increased and the release date was put back time and time again. Even the bands manager had no control over Sly; who by this stage had become a law unto himself.

People involved with the making of this record are not even certain if their contributions are included on the finished recording. If you look at some of the people possibly involved however, its amazing. At some point, Miles Davis, Billy Preston and Bobby Womack were involved, although its almost impossible to tell where. Billy Preston however, was almost certainly responsible for the electric piano parts on Family Affair.

We talk these days about Lo-Fi albums; recorded work that has a rough, recorded at home feel to it. This was the original Lo-Fi album. The songs sound raw and the sound quality at times is really poor. Don't think that this was on purpose however. The only reason the recordings have this quality to them is because the tapes were almost worn out due to the amount of re-recording and overdubbing that took place in the studio. One story recalls how Sly would get various girls to sleep with him on the basis that they could sing backing vocals on the album. This would take place and when they'd left and Sly had had his way, he would wipe the vocal tracks and start again.

I think this album is amazing. Compared to the bands earlier work, its a very dark, bleak recording. If you compare it to the other major release of 1971; the seminal Whats Going On by Marvin Gaye, you can see how these two albums are the polar opposites of each other.

Gaye's album shows concern for the environment, war and the people affected by the fall out of Vietnam. But most of all it does carry a positive message of hope and faith in God. The Family Stones album is down in the gutter; its the 1970's and life looks bad. Too many problems, not enough time, and no solutions.

This is a late night album; one which sounds best at three in the morning when you cant sleep and the world seems against you. Its very easy to sink into the tracks on this album, to become part of them, letting them envelop you - proper headphones music.

This album contains some key Family Stone tracks, Family Affair, Runnin' Away and (You Caught Me) Smilin' amongst them. I love the whole album, in Slys hands, warm funk rhythms become a vehicle for regret and despair. The first four tracks on this album, (Family Affair included), Luv' N' Haight, Just Like A Baby and Poet are just incredible; lyrically and musically.

If you've not listened to this before - get it. You need this album

Some old crap from 2006.....

This is an old blog I found the other day, written when I was still full of hope for the future!!!!

Worcestershire, May 1991: I'm stuck at home revising for my A-Levels. God its boring, summers just started to arrive, and I'd rather be anywhere then here in my bedroom, surrounded by history and economics text books.

Most of my mates have left school already, and are probably making the most of the weather getting pissed down at the local on cheap beer. Not me though, I've got to stay here for the time being; working and feeling sorry for myself. I really want to get this all over with; finish school and get to my eighteenth birthday in July, then I'll be free of all this unbelievably tedious shit

Home, July 2006: Thinking back, 91' was such a great year for music for me personally, (leaving out the start and demise of my ill-fated band - think New Order / Happy Mondays with Birmingham accents). Two of my all time favourite albums had been released that year 'Blue Lines' by 'Massive Attack' and 'Road to Freedom' by The Young Disciples. Both releases radically changed the way I looked at, and thought about music.

So,lets go back to 1991. Probably looking for an excuse not to do any work one day I was flicking through a copy of Melody Maker. As usual, I was casting my eye over the singles reviews for that week; in doing so, one in particular catches my eye; a new release by some band from London called Saint Etienne. The single was called 'Nothing Can Stop Us'.

Being the 'big fish' musically amongst my group of friends, I'd always thought that I was clued up when it came to new bands and new releases; but I knew nothing about Saint Etienne - had never heard of them before.

The review made the record sound incredible; over the intervening years I must have damaged a few brain cells, but I can still just about remember general gist of things. The reviewer mentioned that the record felt like the first day of summer; the first really warm day of the year, when the leaves are out, the birds are singing away and you can take your school jumper off and wrap it around your waist. More importantly anything could happen..

This review captured my imagination so much - sure the sun was indeed shining outside and the birds were singing; but I was trapped inside revising. I wanted to know what this record felt like. More importantly, I wanted to see if the review was in fact correct, or if he'd been talking a load of old shit.

As I often did back in those days, (before the wonder of the internet), I caught the bus into down and purchased a copy from the local Our Price; I'm still amazed that they actually had it in the first place.

The cover gave little away, (God, I LOVE reading record covers!!), except for a gorgeous photo of the singer Sarah Cracknell on the back, (you can imagine what a seventeen year old thought about that). It was always, (still is), so exciting buying new records; jumping off the bus and walking home as quick as I could, running straight up the stairs to my bedroom to play this latest gem - almost quite ritualistic in a way.

I had no idea what to expect, none at all - and then I heard it for the first time.

By St Enids toenail what a record!!!!! The Northern Soul bass and drums, the magical guitar stabs, all topped off with Sarah Cracknell's wrap around, gooey vocals..

The review was so right, this record sounded almost perfect to me; despite the 60s soul references, the record sounded so new, clean and modern. The main thing however was that it planted a massive smile on my face - its still there fifteen years later as I sit here listening to the record again whilst writing this.

A great record should make you feel something; make you giddy, feel drunk or high; make the blood rush to your head. A great record should make you want to dance, sing, fall in love, kiss someone - it should make ANYTHING seem possible.

That record was aptly named, because it made me feel all of those things back then; and it still does now

They could have left it there; just released that one, perfect record. That would have been enough; of course though, they've released stacks of great records in the years since then.

TPW 4/7/06

Saturday, 14 March 2009

The Pure Evil of Twitter

I have a small confession to make, nothing too major, but something that’s been bothering me anyway. I’ve been spending far too much time on Twitter.

Not only that, but the state of mind of one or two of my small band of ‘followers’ has started to not only concern me, but frankly has me tearing my hair out.

Don’t get me wrong, Twitter can be fun, it can be distracting and quite amusing at times; but there are some disturbed maniacs out there who take the whole thing way too seriously. Have we really come to a point in 2009 where people consider strangers on Twitter to be their real life ‘friends’?

I’ve come across some odd behaviour this week, what can only be described as stalking, I swear, some people must spend all day on there – and I feel bad for spending the odd hour here and there…. Then there are the people who are so obsessed with every living moment of every Z List celebrity; spending their time practically begging to be followed. I’m not in any position to judge another persons behaviour, but come on, for fucks sake, get a fucking life…Or at least a fraction of one.

Conclusion - keep away from Twitter!!

Oh, and why the fuck is Bill Oddie following me!!??

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Guess what?! I'm back!

Yep, that's right kids; after the best part of eight long months I have now returned; and i'm bloody well pissed off!

So, the gloves are now off, new blogs will follow and heads will roll!

In saying that, even though I've got a lot to get off me big old chest at the moment, I will be posting a lot more music based stuff and a lot less political guff...

This is just a quick 'hello' - I will be back very soon...

Oh, and Happy 40th Birthday to Mr Graham Coxon.....