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b-logg vb. written by people with too much time on their hands, read by people with   too much time on their hands.

 

A Presonal Trawl Through The Music Year

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This Page: 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018

›› Previous Years: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014

›› Previous Years: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009


Blogggggg 2018

Trying to make sense out of nonsense!

This year might not only be remembered in music circles for the death of Mark E. Smith, Pete Shelly and Aretha Franklin but the death of NME and Gibson Guitars.

Is music in 2018 really so unimportant to people that long established companies that existed to feed the industry can no longer operate?

Is it all the mass audience want now is a “tune” composed by digital algorithm approved by a focus group to ‘anesthetize the way that they feel’ (Credit Elvis C.)

In an article in the ‘I’ newspaper in March which was trying to explain the demise of Gibson Guitar Company, some new artists were interviewed to explain their reason for ditching the instrument. Basically money was the main reason. Apps like Garage Band have enabled amateur musicians almost limitless sounds to be creative at very little cost. Personally I think this is short sightedness, fine for demos, but for the finished track…. Despite the combinations of available sounds, a lot of backing tracks end up sounding similar and soulless. Example, listen to almost any ‘80’s record and you will hear that horrible metallic robotic electric drum sound that blighted the decade. This year I have picked up second hand CD’s and there were some right stinkers blighted by the cutting edge 80’s production, (C,S & N & Graham Nash solo, even Joni Mitchell!) With the exception of The Smiths, R.E.M. and The Fall virtually every other artist, especially US artists, fell into the trap. When browsing the racks and finding an unfamiliar CD from a well-known artist, I look at the date, if I see 1980’s as year of release, my heart sinks! This is going to sound shit! Some fantastic records were ruined by this invention. Very few records benefited from the sound, especially in the rock genre. Pro-tools & auto tune are the instruments of torture today, but they are getting so sophisticated that it’s getting harder to hear their use in modern recordings.

Even David Bowie was sucked into 1980’s ‘cutting edge’ production. His ‘Tonight’ & ‘Never Let Me Down’ albums were known to not be his favourite even though they were among his biggest sellers. Before he died he apparently had discussed with Tony Visconti about re mixing. So this year Visconti basically re-recorded Never Let Me Down with the original musicians using Bowie’s original vocal. The results were issued in this year’s box set.

A few honourable mentions though, The The, New Order, Cocteau Twins & Talk Talk managed to make the sound work for them without sounding dated years later.

There is a place for the electronic apps, but don’t let them replace real instruments.

The Fall were a band that I was aware of from early in there recording career. John Peel obviously played them with regularity. At first hearing to me they sounded like an amateur band that just missed the point, but that was the point. No slick recording techniques or studios. It took a few years before I bought my first Fall album. Like beer, the first sips seem bitter and not very nice to most people, but you keep persevering because you know there is something good there. The Fall were like that to me. I used to joke to people that I’ve never paid full price for a Fall CD. Look back over my twitter time line and you can find pictures of some of my Fall purchases with price stickers still on them.

As I threw these words together, news came through that Pete Shelley had left us. A great power pop tune smith. Had a fantastic run of classic singles with The Buzzcocks in 1978/79 only bettered by The Beatles. I had a close encounter with him in 2002/3 Travailing back from Los Angles. A message come over the speaker that we were waiting for the last two passengers to embark. Sauntering down the aisle a little embarrassed at keeping everyone waiting, came Steve Diggle and Pete Shelley to take up the two seats behind me. They had been playing a punk revival festival in Anaheim. It was the time before camera phones so no selfie, just a polite ‘How you doing?’ ‘Fine thanks’

Morrissey, someone not far away from controversy, cancelled his UK tour due to ‘logistical’ problems. However, many accused him of backing a right wing party and in the process a few people took exception and decided to arrange protests to coincide with the gigs. Did this prompt him to pull the gigs? I’m not a right wing supporter but I find it equally disgusting that the left wing just want to stifle any debate and shut it down before it starts. It seems to be all over twitter. Anyone with anything approaching right wing views are trolled off the platform – except Trump of course. Seems everyone with a point of view seems to be turning into Trump. Believing that their views are actually fact. As I keep re quoting “everyone has the right to free speech, just don’t be dumb enough to try it” – Joe Strummer – Know Your Rights – 1982. Just be careful what you wish for. Limit debate and you could end up with another EU In/Out referendum – and end up with the same result!

Trying desperately to avoid Br£*1T, but turning on or looking at any media in the UK towards the end of 2018 it was just impossible. All the fools wanting to ignore the result of the previous referendum so we have another. What, so we could ignore that result as well!

So this is democracy in the 21st century, just keep having referendums or elections until the bully’s with the loudest voices in ‘showbiz & media’ who have no more of a clue what is going on than I do, get their way. Is it making certain people in their cosy bubble a bit uncomfortable? Or have they really got the wellbeing of the majority of the population in their best interest? It would probably be the first time ever. Don’t Believe The Hype.

NME’s demise was no surprise. Anyone who has bothered to follow these ramblings over the last couple of years will have read about the decline. I was listening to Ian Hislop on the radio last year. He was explaining why Private Eye had no web present, just a page to subscribe to have the print version delivered. Sales were up! He continued that virtually no line publication was making money as advertising revenue was spread so thin and it was still possible to make the print version pay if you know your market. Perhaps print is where the future lies…. The NME site is just a mess of adverts and click bait.

Music Of The Year

I took the decision at the beginning of 2018 to cut back on the purchase of new releases. My criteria for buying new albums is usually, 1.) Follow up to a great previous album. 2.) An artist that I have supported for years and probably always will. 3.) Artists that are new to me but am going to see live 4.) Albums that have received positive reviews in the music press.

The 4th point is where I have to pull myself in. It seems reviewers are too eager to slap 4 stars out of 5 or 8-9/10 scores where I am swayed to purchase. Too often the album leaves me cold and wondering what the hell did the reviewer hear that I cannot. OK most of those albums are usually bought in the HMV 2 for £15 deals, but my shelves are buckling under the weight of underwhelming albums. I probably bought about 40 less new albums that last year but the total was still 534 of which 149 were new releases & box sets. The other 400 odd albums were used from charity shops and 2nd hand record shops.

Record store day

What is more important, the music or the format it is delivered on?

Or vinyl day for physics deniers. I’m not a vinyl hater, but what is more important, the playback format or its content? As an artefact vinyl is superb. It can’t be beaten. But there are people that swear that the sound is far superior to any other format. The last couple of vinyl albums (Sufjan Stevens – for one) I have bought have come with a download code, so that destroys any superior sound argument stone dead! This is a matter of preference. The sad fact is that from about the age of 8 years hearing in human beings start deteriorating. Hearing is one of the first things to go. By the time we get to about 30 years the low and high frequencies we once herd as a child are no longer audible – unless you are Neil Young of course. Yes there is a difference in high end digital and high-end analogue sound reproduction, but these can only be herd on high-end equipment and then it is the listener’s choice. Don’t even suggest that vinyl sounds better on a £50 Croxley turntable, you numpty’s don’t deserve to be in the debate. (A side note here. Just happened to catch a small segment of a Channel 4 documentary about a posh hotel. The cake chef was using a Croxley type turntable – with tone arm still attached – to decorate cakes! Yes, that is probably all they are good for)

So in my conclusion, anybody prepared to pay £18 for a Florence + The Machine 7” single on Record Store Day you could probably be sold sky hooks and striped paint!
And if you are buying it as an investment, don’t hold your breath. Just look on Discogs and see the value of certain albums that you think are work a bit of cash and weep!

Some of the best albums (on CD of course) I’ve acquired in the last few years have been second hand. From between £1 - £4 some great albums that I missed out on over the years or albums that I have read about, re apprised or appeared in some list or other. Some of these albums are no longer available, so to pick these up for a couple of quid is even more rewarding – especially when you see some chancer trying to sell the CD on Amazon Market place for up to 20 times what I had paid for it. So what are some of these sought after albums? Here is a list of my favourites …

John Martyn – A.
Quintessence – In Blissful Company/Quintessence
Blind Boys Of Alabama – Spirit Of The Century
Quick Silver Messenger Service – 1st/What About Me
The Jayhawks – Tomorrow The Green Grass
Frank Zappa – You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore – Vol.4/200 Motels (It was available once!)
Gregory Isaacs – Lonely Days/Not A One Man thing/Slum – In Dub
New Order – Video 5-8-6
Booker T & The Mg’s – (1977 album) – Universal Language

Another by-line. The week in October that the new Elvis Costello album was released, it entered the chart at no. 14. Another new release that week that entered the chart at no.1 was from pop singer Jess Glynn. The Sun newspaper reported that Jessit sold 35,000 combined copies to get to the top of the chart! That number probably would not have got the album in the top 100 thirty years ago. So how many copies did Elvis sell that week? I bought two copies so who bought the other one?

Reading Matter 2018

Can’t Stand Up For Falling Down – Allan Jones – 2017

Or ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll war stories, as the author explains. Most of these short stories were compiled for Uncut magazine for the “Stop Me If You’ve Herd This One Before” feature. From memoirs of his ‘interviews’ with most of the important personalities in music between 1974 to 1994 while working for Melody Maker. Each chapter takes no more than a few minutes to read, but still manages to get the over consumption of drink and drugs across to such an extent to leave the reader with the hangover.

Meet Me In The Bathroom – Lizzy Goldman – 2017

When I first saw the format of the book I thought it was going to be a hard read. It reads like a BBC 4 talking heads rockumentury. But a couple of pages in, you didn’t notice. Who the fuck is Har Mar Superstar? He crops up in every chapter, giving opinions and insight into every situation, seems to have been everywhere all over the world at the same time. The book revolves around The Strokes and James Murphy’s New York of 2001 to 2011, the drugs, the drugs, the drugs oh and the drugs. From someone who has never indulged, it’s just a bit pathetic “Oh we’re skint, lets do drugs and have a party”. I’m amazed any music came out of it. But some pretty amazing music did. At 600 pages I feel it was a bit overlong.


Renegade – Mark E. Smith With Austin Collins – 2008

Question – If MES regards himself as a competent writer, why does he need a ghost co writer? In the real world MES would probably be shunned for his controversial views but for some reason the music industry puts up with him finding excuses for his behaviour. Hardly a good word for any of his peers – even John Peel - As far as I am concerned he does not do himself any favours, however must give him credit for painting himself as a bit of a shit. A good read though!


Sound Man – Glyn Johns – 2015

Prompted to dig this one out after seeing Ethan play live in Guildford. A run through of anecdotes of his recording career mainly from the mid ‘60’s to late ‘70’s. He draws the same conclusion that I have as a music consumer as he as a producer/engineer that the industry has lost its way due to lack of cash due to free downloading and streaming. Like me, he hates the program drum and synthesizer combination of writing ‘songs’ with a beats pr minute and limited melody with nursery rhyme lyrics. Where are the new artists that can write a song using a piano, guitar and voice instead of a laptop with garage band? They are probably out there, I know they are out there as I have seen a few this year supporting most of the artists I have seen live this year. It’s just that most of the people listening to music seriously are few and far between and even less are prepared to pay for it.

Guildford – The Rock ‘n’ Roll Years – Nigel Enever – 2009

The bands, the venues and artists that passed through Guildford in the ‘60’s in a concise volume dedicated to the town.


Live

The year started slowly but picked up a bit after the middle of the year. The strange thing is the number of gigs in Cardiff. Mainly because they were all on Saturdays plus despite being further away from me than The O2, it’s quicker to get to!

Tom McRae – St Marys, Guildford

After being snowed off a month earlier, this was to be his last gig for a while.

Manic Street Preachers/The Coral – Cardiff

With support form the Corel, the Manics promoting their latest album, ‘Resistance Is Futile’. Always a pleasure to see, they have never disappointed me live. Will always try and catch them whenever they tour.

Arcade Fire (Feat. Florence Welch & Boy George) – Wembley Arena

The ‘Everything Now’ tour reaches London. Done out like a boxing ring in the centre of the arena, the band enter by parading through the crowd to maximum effect.

Rolling Stones/Elbow – Principality Stadium Cardiff

This was a relatively last minute booking. Plus it was memorable for many reasons but mainly for the dash too and from my parked car – about a mile away – because nowhere on the ticket or booking site was it mentioned that no bags what so ever were permitted in the venue! I wasn’t to only person caught out. Another strange thing is that our seats were 7 stories up with concrete steps. Now I don’t go to any sports events but I imagine it’s the same situation. How come it’s OK to get completely rat arsed pissed and then to try to negotiate these concrete stairs at that altitude? A friend of mine organises gigs and political meetings and has to carry out risk assessments. So how does climbing steep concrete steps while pissed not carry any type of risk? Anyhow, Elbow & The Stones were great.

Elvis Costello/Nick Lowe/Waterboys – Blenheim Palace

Arriving on stage and ripping into a relatively obscure Allen Toussaint cover from The River In Reverse album – Wonder Woman, Costello and regular band plus backing duo kept a dwindling crowd, due to the howling wind blowing across the lake, entertained with a satisfying set from his entire career. Earlier in the day Britain’s’ other genius singer songwriter Nick Lowe treated us to songs from his career including his latest EP. A few days after, Elvis had to curtail his tour to fully recover from an operation that he had undergone a few weeks beforehand. And a few days after that the news many Costello fans had been waiting to hear for many years, a new contract had been signed and a new album was imminent!

Ethan Johns – St Mary’s Guildford

A rare live outing for the legendry BRIT winning producer. Multi-instrumentalist, singer songwriter of merit. One of my discoveries of 2018 – late to the party as usual. A set comprising mainly of tracks from his Anamnesis album that he was promoting.

Jim White

Second time I’ve seen Jim in Guildford. An extra gog after appearing at The End Of The Road festival.


The Low Anthem - Guildford

For me one of the most interesting gigs of the year, for my wife one of the most weird gigs ever! Playing their most recent album (about plankton) in full, plus a few oldies.

Elvis Costello – Mastertape Recording BBC Maida Vale

I have applied many times for various BBC gig recordings with no success. So to receive a ‘Congratulations, You have won…” email came as a surprise as it meant an up close encounter with my musical hero since 1977. Over two & a half hours, along with Steve Nieve, they were interviewed by John Wilson in detail and played about a dozen of his songs from his career from ‘Watching the detectives’ to ‘Under Lime’. The program was a part of the BBC National Album Day to be played out on October 14th.


Elvis


All around me people had their phones out taking pictures. I don’t normally participate but I thought – just this time – as soon as I whipped it out tap tap tap on my shoulder, security person, waving index finger, “No Photos”. If I was ever to get the urge to take a selfie – which I won’t, but if I did, I bet there will be someone there to stop me for some petty reason. It’s ok for people to stand in front of me at gigs filming the entire event (See David Byrne below) but not ok for me to sneak a single snap. I know my place!

Laura Vers – Guildford

Promoting her latest album, The Lookout.

David Byrne – Cardiff

Not only gig of the year but probably one of the top 10 gigs ever! Been upgraded on flights & hotels but being upgraded to the front section of an arena is a first. Still had a Muppet right in front of me that insisted in recording every minute on his phone though. However, what a gig. There has been loads written about his American Utopia tour and is all pretty accurate. Mojo and Uncut both made it their music event of the year. Loads of Talking Heads songs and the best of his solo stuff, highly choreographed and it worked perfectly. Could it be a big attraction at next years Glastonbury?

Richard Thompson – Woking

Saw his solo acoustic show in Guildford last year but this was with his 4 piece trio? Promoting his 13 Rivers album. As he said at the start. We will play stuff we want to play first, then stuff you want to hear later. Tung firmly in cheek, 2 hours of new stuff and classics. Look down a list of the top guitar players in the world and Thompson’s name is usually on it, and rightly so.

Kathryn Williams - Guildford

Like John Smith who I saw the following week, for someone who has had a huge interest in music for the last 60 years, it saddens me that the likes of Kathryn Williams & JS are still just playing to relatively small audiences. Maybe it’s their choice but I doubt it. Any performer would want to get their music herd by as many people as possible. Life is unfair and Kathryn is just another example.


John Smith - Guildford

A gifted singer/songwriter & guitar player, ignored by the listening public. Go on keep buying your Michael Bauble/Latest x-factor flash in the pan and leave John alone. He wouldn’t want your support anyway!

Recordings

As the end of year lists start being published as I compile my best of the year, seems I’m out of step with the taste makers. Not many of my favourites are listed. A lot of re issues this year as 50 years since 1968 and the explosion of the album. But let’s stick to new stuff here.

Manic Street Preachers – Resistance Is Futile
Arctic Monkeys – Tranquillity Base….
Grif Rhys - Babelsberg
Ethan Johns - Anamnesis
The Good, The Bad & The Queen – Merrie Land
Ry Cooder – The Prodigal Son
Lump – Lump
Hookworms - Microshift
Richard Thompson – 13 rivers
Big Red Machine – People
Elvis Costello – Look now
Melody’s Echo Chamber – Bon Voyage
I’m With Her – See You Around
Phosphorescent – C’est La Vie
White Denim - Performance
Khruangbin – Con Todo El Mundo
Blood Orange – Negro Swan
Ryley Walker – The Lillywhite Sessions/Deafman Glance
Kiran Leonard – Western Culture
Phil Cook – People Are My Drug

OK, talking of Re issues, a few of my favourite…

Mott The Hoople – Mental Train – The Island Years – 1969-1971
R.E.M. – At The BBC
The Beatles – The Beatles
David Bowie – Loving The Alien [1983-1988]
David Bowie – Glastonbury 2000


Tracks

Elvis Costello – Under Lime/He’s Given Me Things
David Byrne – Gasoline And Dirty Sheets/Everybody’s Coming To My House
Courtney Barnett – Need A Little Time
The Good, The Bad & The Queen - Merrie Land
Blood Orange - Charcoal Baby/Saint
Parquet Courts – Freebird 2
Hookworms – Static Resistance
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Mainland
Kamasi Washington – Street Fighter Mas/Fists Of Fury
Orbital – Tiny Foldable Cities
Manic Street Preachers – Dylan & Caitlin/People Give In/Vivian
Phosphorescent – New Birth In New England



Coming up – The return of Doves


Julian White ©2018



Blogggggg 2017

Where Is This Vinyl Revival?


Right at the end of 2016, the Guardian news paper ran an article – the death of downloading – yes those same no nothing bloggers/writers that predicted the death of vinyl & CD’s are now predicting the death of the download. The legal paid for one that is. Reading the article I could see some reason behind it. Streaming had overtaken the legal download, and physical sales of music had actually grown. In the 1980’s when home taping was killing music, a survey reviled that people that did the most home taping also bought the most vinyl music. Could this be the same principle that now people will ‘try out’ music by streaming, then buy a physical copy? There might be hope for recorded music industry yet.

However, a couple of weeks into the new year The XX went straight to number one in the charts with their latest album – I See You. The Sun paper reported that it had sold a ‘massive’ 25,000 copies to achieve this feat! How many of those were vinyl? If the percentages that are reported are correct less than 1000. I find it alarming that bands and artists even bother to make new recorded music with those margins. There is an independent record label called Full Time Hobby (Home of White Denim, Smoke Fairies) I like to think it was named with a slightly tong in cheek dig at the major labels of the time when it was set up in 2004. However if you want to make music these days it seems that is the only way it is going to happen is to make it your hobby. Now if only the English Premier soccer league could use that model…

At the end of November the same writers were claiming a 'massive' sales serge was imminent for December and the run up to Christmas with a massive one million units predicted to be sold. Well that will sort the industry out then!

While reading David Hepworth’s latest book (see below) many thoughts occurred to me regarding the music industry, I basically agree with his conclusions that their no longer seems to be any individuals capable of being able to shock/grab headlines coming though the ranks in any significant number. The odd hip-hop star and Ed Sheeran, maybe. This coincides with the advent of the internet to mass consumption in 1995. Nothing earth shattering in that, we know people under the age of 35 believe music is free. But it had the side effect of killing off the Rock Star. OK so there is the odd band and artist that who have made a big impact using the internet. Arctic Monkeys are one, but there are so many people doing it that they are spread very thin and trying to stand out is almost imposable. Without the hype of a record company and an income stream from a back catalogue, were are the all those annoyingly overpaid bad behaved Bono’s? Where are the next generation of truly great ‘Glastonbury’ headliners?

Ed Sheeran.. yes he was everywhere, occupied most of the top 20 singles for a couple of weeks in March this year, played the pyramid stage at Glastonbury and generally pissed off everybody that actually cares about music in 2017. Personally he dose not piss me off as much as some artists have over the last couple of decades but he’s getting there. It just seems a shame to think that someone bordering on blandness seems to be making a reasonable living out of music in 2017 instead of the real pioneers in the industry. Perhaps it’s more of a reflection on his audience rather than his talent. For an indication of who I would say have talent and deserve Sheeran like success see my albums of the year below.

As I type this out, 6 Music have just played out a compilation of The Sound of 2018 finalists. Were they all selected because they all used the same backing track pumped out from Garage Band? Has originality really been replaced by blandness? No, it’s just me getting old and nostalgic.

The NME continues it’s downward trajectory. I pick up the print edition now and then when I see it. Sadly it’s no more than a pamphlet now with 50% adverts. How long before it’s just a leaflet? The website is almost unusable on a tablet with ads popping up randomly when you try to read anything. What did surprise me was their recordings of the years seemed to bear no relation to the artists featured in the magazine…


Fake News

In April Ms May did a U Turn and decided to have an election. Anyone that actually had been following the news instead of just reading the headlines for the previous nine months would have reached the conclusion that an election before the final Brexit would be inevitable. It was a no brainer, with such a slim majority and so much resistance to Brexit she had to try….. and yes the pollsters were wrong again. How many people laughed at the result? And every one claimed victory. I’m not nailing my colours to any political party. Since I left school in 1970 and started taking notice of politics, I have seen and herd all the bullshit form every side of the political spectrum. They still all lie – sorry, avoid a straight answer. I have voted for most the parties available in my constituency and even spoiled my vote in a couple of polls in frustration. If anyone had a magic wand, or in reality a formula for making everything right, do you not think it would have been tried. Perhaps the government of the day should do what most people do when they have a question or problem – Google it!

The political football the NHS has always been struggling for funds under Labour and Tory and it always will do – probably. FACT, Since 1970 the Tory’s have been in power for more years than Labour and the NHS is still here despite each side saying the other will destroy it if they come to power. I’m not saying that it is in a good state, I just wish people would realise this. It will still be here long after I’ve gone and vital care will be available to anyone that needs it. Another thing, why must the UK think it has the right the poach staff for the NHS from overseas? A lot of staff come from countries that can ill afford to let their doctors and nurses go, so why should it be OK for the UK to do this?

The Brexit farce drags on. I don’t pretend to understand more than 10% of this situation, and I don’t believe many people posting tweets understand much more if any more. However, here’s a thought. If you had a company and by some misfortune you had a two year warning that maybe a lot of your customers are ditching you, would you sit there waiting to go out of business, or try to establish new customers?

Stories keep emerging every week from pro remainders saying that after Brexit we will not be able to get enough people to fill vital jobs. Why is this? As far as I understand it we will still be letting people into this country, but it just won’t be a free for all.

Another thing, don’t some of these celeb Labour supporters not think that some of their troll comments on twitter might have the opposite effect on what they are trying to achieve – Billy Bragg for one. I’m sure he’s horrified that I un-followed him! Some of their comments were at best rude at worst damn right disgusting. Grow up and have proper adult debate. Come on, you now have 280 characters to get your point across!

Departed

The older we get the more people are going to leave us. That is just life. It happens. This year we lost a number of musicians that may not have been household names like Price or Bowie but never the less had a big impact on my musical upbringing. With in a week we lost Walter Becker and Holger Czukay. Between them they produced a huge amount of music that made up my 1970’s soundtrack. A few weeks later Tom Petty joined them. I was lucky enough to catch him on his Mojo tour in 2012. Anther artist that sound tracked my 70’s.

Recordings.

2017 seems to have been a seminal year for the anniversary re issue, Sgt. Pepper, OK computer to name but two.

There was a point this year when I was beginning to wonder if there were going to be any worthwhile new releases. With the slew of big re issues led by The Beatles and Radiohead other big hitters The Smiths, Prince, R.E.M. and Bob Dylan’s ever growing Bootleg series, the monthly music mags seemed to dedicate a lot of copy to these releases. Neil Young finally releasing the long forgotten lost album Hitchhiker and Nick Lowe re releasing his long deleted ‘80’s albums.

It must be an age thing. I’m finding it harder to find new music that genuinely excites me at the moment. (see Sound Of 2018 above) Most of my favourite albums this year have been old stuff that I’ve picked up second hand for a couple of quid a pop. Example, at the start of this year I only had a couple of Richard Thompson albums. An artist I have always been aware of and liked the stuff of his that I had herd but never got around to buying more of. Then, one day in my favourite second hand CD shop someone had offloaded a Richard Thompson collection. For less than £30 I had acquired an excellent library of said artist. Over the last few years some other artists that I have accumulated albums in a similar way, Ani De Franco, The Fall, Cowboy Junkies, Drive-by Truckers, Robert Palmer, Emmylou Harris and Ricky Lee Jones.

Not only that, I was able to pick up of albums for £2-3 a go from artists I had read about over the years and finally able to hear what all the fuss was about. A few mentions, Dan Penn, David Acklass, Mickey Newbury, Penguin Café Orchestra, Blind Boys Of Alabama, Indigo Girls and The Jayhawks.

Oh yes - this years Johana Newsome Award for Do Not Listen To While Driving For Fear Of Falling Asleep At The Wheel, gose to Bjork and her Utopia album.

Having said that, these albums are all worth a listen.

Laura Marling – Semper Femina
Arcade Fire – Everything Now
Bonobo – Migration
Flo Morrissey & Matthew E White – Gentlewoman Ruby Man
Elbow – Little Fictions
The XX – I See You
Ty Segall – Ty Segall
Kathryn Williams – Songs From The Novel Greatest Hits
Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley
Jane Weaver - Modern Kosmology
John Murry – A Short History Of Decay
Thurston Moore – Rock N Roll Consciousness
John Smith – Headlong
Loyle Carner – Yesterday’s Gone
Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun
The War On Drugs – A Deeper Understanding
This Is The Kit – Moonshine Freeze
Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination
Jim White – Waffles, Triangles & Jesus
Sam Amidon – The Following Mountain
Four Tet – Two Thousand And Seventeen
The National – Sleep Well Beast
U2 - Songs Of Eperience

Tracks

Arcade Fire – Everything Now
Nadine Shah – Holiday Destination
Radiohead – I Promise
The National – The System Only Dreams In Total Darkness
The War On Drugs – Thinking Of A Place
Laura Marling - Soothing
The Weekend/Daft Punk – I Feel It Coming
Loyle Carner – The Isle Of Arran
Manic Street Preachers - International Blue

Re-Issues

Neil Young - Hitchhiker
The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper

Live:

Gigs this year were even more thin on the ground. Not even Elbow could tempt me to challenge the M25 on a winter evening. So I kept to local events.

Teenage Fanclub – Shepard’s Bush Empire

Not only Teenage Fanclub but the added bonus of Euros Childs playing support. The Fanclub have been one of my all time favourite bands for the best part of 25 years now. Un like some bands, I don’t get the chance to get tired of them as they don’t make too many albums and don’t do too may tours. Just catch them when you can.

Aeofe O’Donavan – St Mary’s Guildford.

On the last part of her tour promoting her latest album from 2016 – In The Magic Hour. A return visit to Guildford

John Murry – St Mary’s Guildford

Got to hear John Murry first via his last album a couple of years back. The climax of this show was the harrowing Little Coloured Balloons which was even more so live in the church venue.

Richard Thompson – Glive – Guildford

Solo acoustic, promoting his series of ‘Acoustic Classic’ Albums. The first time I’ve seen him live but I may have seen him with the Fairports in the early ‘70’s.

John Smith – The Keep – Guildford

Another artist that fits into the category of ‘why is he not a big star?’ he has the songs and the personality but he’s not called Ed Sheeran!

Sam Amidon – St. Mary’s Guildford


Books

Tony Visconti: Bowie, Bolan And The Brooklyn Boy – 2007

One that had been on my shelf for a while. An update is surly in the works. He shares all his dirty laundry, but claims he has since washed it! One of the things that came out was several records I love, that I did not realise his involvement. His relationship with Bolan that eventually turned sour and his work with Bowie that continued to evolve, to his work with Morrissey.

Bruce Springsteen: Born to Run – 2016

There was probably more in the book than I probably needed to know regarding his personal demons. The fact that he had been seeing a therapist for most of his professional life came as a surprise to me. Again, the usual story of an early contract eagerly signed to get a record out ending in acrimony. But it worked out good in the end for the New Jersey boy.


Johnny Marr: Set The Boy Free – 2016

Johnny’s side of the ‘severed alliance’. Considering how such a short period of time The Smiths were together, they left a long shadow over Marr’s (and Morrissey’s) life.
But life after there is. The Cribbs, Modest Mouse, The Pretenders, Electronic, The The, plus dozens of sessions. All documented here.


Uncommon People - The Rise And Fall Of The Rock Star: David Hepworth – 2017

Automated rhythm sections introduced at the beginning of the 21st century seems to be the turning point that with high insight signifies the downfall. After his great read about the start of the rock era in 1971, Hepworth returns with another compelling book. 40 odd bite sized stories including Brian Wilsons 1964 flight to Huston (see below)

Going On The Turn: Danny Baker – 2017

The third instalment of his autobiography. A large chunk of this one details, with as much humour as possible, his cancer cure. Sometimes a bit harrowing but still a worthwhile read.

I Am Brian Wilson – With Ben Greenman – 2016

The darting backward and forward makes this a bit of a challenging read, I would have preferred that it had been edited in chronological order, but I’m a bit of a simpleton! How many times dose he mention ‘that flight to Huston in 1964’? virtually every other page it seems.. While reading this on holiday, I listened back to a lot Beach Boy’s back catalogue. Even the not well received late 60’s early 70’s albums sounded sonically far superior to the last BB’s album released in 2012 which Brian himself felt a bit sad about as it was made using Pro Tools to speed up the recording process.

Motherless Child: The Definitive Biography Of Eric Clapton: Paul Scott – 2015

Only one word to describe the pre 2000 Clapton ‘arsehole’. Well that is the character that comes across in Scott’s biog. The drink, the ‘weapon grade’ drugs, the womanising is all here. Damn fine read though!

Looking ahead…

Stuff to look forward to in 2018 - Arcade fire at Wembley arena, New albums from – Franz Ferdinand, MGMT, Manic Street Preachers, Johnny Marr.



Julian White ©2017



Blogggggg 2016

"Don’t Fear The Reaper

Only one music story dominates this year. The loss of David Bowie. One of the few artists that could still get me out to the record shop on release day of a new album. Not only that, but a great album to boot. I had played Black Star many times over it’s release weekend and was satisfied that it was not only one of his best albums for years, but will be one of the best albums of the year.

On the following Monday morning I could hear the radio playing lots of Bowie music. Because of the ambient noise of my work environment, it took several tracks in a row to eventually hear the news of his passing. It put an end the thought that all the time he was alive there was a chance I might get to see him live in concert. Despite having nearly all of his recorded work, I just seemed to miss his live dates.

Within a few weeks, George Martin passed. A legend that I had a close encounter with a few years ago flying from Montserrat to Antigua.

A few weeks later and Price was gone. Unlike Bowie, at least I had the chance of seeing him perform live a couple of times. At Wembley arena in 1987 on the Lovesexy tour and again during his O2 residency in 2007. Both occasions performing memorable sets.

Without these three people, how would the music of the last 50 years have evolved? OK so other people would have come along. But It was these people, and it was their work that shaped the music of the generation. Between Bowie and Prince a massive percentage of the popular music world of the last 40 years is due to their influence, no question. Without George Martin would the Beatles have been so successful? We will never know. Just be grateful that we were on the earth at the same time as these fabulously talented people to hear the results.

By the end of 2016 we had also lost Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Keith Emerson, Gregg Lake, Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell & Sharon Jones. Some wags on (Anti)social media suggested that some of the pop stars of a certain age should really take it easy until the end of 2016.

Hopefully there are people around today that will prove to be as influential to coming generations as Bowie, Prince & George Martin. …see you in the next world…

A little lighter. A small article in Mojo mag from Sept this year. A company called Vinylize can now rip MP3’s to vinyl. Am I missing something? The whole point according to vinyl junkies is that Vinyl is the pinnacle of recorded musical sound. Digital, CD & MP3 is the dirt under their musical boots. This surly undermines the whole argument for vinyl. More bullshit please…

Another story that amused me was the latest in the NOW series of albums put out by Universal. Vol. 94 Did not contain any number one singles. The first time this had happed since the series had begun some 30 odd years ago. The reason was two fold. One, Drake who’s song One Dance got stuck at number one in the chart for 16 weeks, the apx cycle time of the NOW series. Secondly. Mr Drake refused to licence the song to Universal to add it to the collection. Pop stars ehh..

The NME conversion to a main line pop outlet was complete. They have obviously found their audience. There album of the year – the 1975 – a band whose last album they basically dismissed as pop fluff. Don’t know how long they will keep printing a paper copy. Whenever I see piles in shops, maybe only 10% have been taken from the stack, and that is at the end of the weekly cycle!

Just to reiterate how bad things must be for jobbing musicians, back at the beginning of September, The Sun news paper happened to remark that the number one album that week (Bastille) sold a massive 37,000 copies! If that is the number one album just how many copies did Teenage Fanclub sell that week to get to number eight?

The cost of Physical vs. digital download was questioned on the BBC website in November. Physical copies of TV series cost as little as £30 but £150 to download. Similar, the cost of box sets of the Classic album series or Original album series of usually 5 albums pr set cost about £10, but to download the individual albums cost up to £50. I’m still firmly in the physical camp. The only time I download is if there is no physical copy to purchase. This year for example, The stone roses and the strokes both released fine download only product. (OK Frank Ocean & Kanye West also did, but I can hold out for a physical) Oh yeah because I couldn’t wait Radiohead’s Moon Shaped Pool. On the other hand In the Original/Classic album re issue series I caught up with Terry Reid, Judee Sill, Laura Nyro, Ministry all for about £10 each.

In December for one week only, Vinyl outsold downloads. Yes that pinnacle of audio sound that if you play it on a £50 Crossley or ION turntable can be made to sound like a cats claws dragging down a blackboard. (younger readers might want to google blackboard). If you are lucky, the vinyl might come with an MP3 download code so you get a set of rubbish sounding tracks.

By December I purchased a Sony turntable to rip the 200 or so vinyl albums I still had. It comes with software that enables encoding up to 96KHz 24 Bit. Yeah that makes all the difference ripping from vinyl. All that static and scratches in 24 bit on my Stram Magic network player!

Obviously, the biggest political stories of the year were #Brexit & Trump.

Brexit will affect everyone in the UK and beyond for many years. Personally I did not vote. Three reasons, I felt that at my age it will affect me less than the younger generation. I felt it was their vote, their future. Second I was happy to accept what ever the voters decided. I could not find a single overbearing reason one way or another – truth or post-truth, to put my cross next to. Finally, I was in Cuba getting a taste of what a post Brexit Britten might be like! I did not have the drive to sort out a postal vote before I left.

All the polls and commentators suggested that we would remain. A bit of complacency crept in, so when the result was announced, hysterical remainers’ complained and called foul. A section of younger voters moaned the fact that they were not on the voting register because they were away at collage or university. I find this a bit worrying, cleaver enough to go to uni, but don’t have the smarts to figure out how to register to vote! OK that might not have made a difference, but that section of the community should have organised themselves a bit better and put an argument together that was not full of half truth’s and lies that the rest of the voters would believe to get the result they wanted.

Since then, the remoaners & Scotland have been demanding another vote. What the hell is Weee Kranke on? She dose not want London telling her how to run her country but happy for Brussels to rule her??? Trying to use the UK courts as delaying tactics. God knows where this will end up. Poor old Billy Bragg, He couldn’t tweet fast enough. Remember Billy when you slag off everyone you don’t agree with, as your late mate Joe Strummer sang, “you have the right to free speech, Just don’t be dumb enough to try it!” The EU seem hell bent on punishing the UK for leaving. Cameron, you opened up a complete can of worms you idiot!

There will be change, but I am optimistic. The entertainment industry might have to do a bit more form filling when touring Europe. A few multi national companies that avoid paying tax in the UK might bugger off, but BMW, Audi, Fiat, Renault, Mercedes will still be selling cars in the UK, Italy & France will still sell their wine here. There will still be 24 hours in a day and spring will still follow summer….


Music Of The Year

A few observations. With the guitar and drum duo’s that have sprung up in the wake of the White Stripes all beginning to sound the same, (see last years bloggg) is it me or have nearly all the pop acts ditched real instruments. Chvrches, Christine & the Queens, Taylor Swift plus virtually every track to make the top 40 to name a few, seem to have been made using the same computer program. Why do they rent top notch studios at 1000’s of £’s a day to sound like Garage Band was used as a backing? Finally, I think Kathryn Williams should give his Bobness a lesson in how to cover the great American songbook – oh she has!

Albums

Aoife ‘O Donovan – In The Magic Hour
David Bowie – Blackstar
Mogwai – Atomic
Animal Collective – Painting With…
Ed Harcourt – Furnaces
Goat – Requiem
Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
James Vincent McMorrow – We Move
Kathryn Williams & Anthony Kerr – Resonator
King Creosote – Astronaut Meets Appleman
Kiran Leonard – Grapefruit
Lambchop - Flotus
Mudcrutch – 2
The Pretenders - Alone
NAO – For All We Know
Ryley Walker – Golden Sings That Have Been Sung
Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
Teenage Fanclub – Here
Bon Iver – 22, A Million
Syd Arthur – Apricity
White Denim – Stiff
The Comet Is Coming – Channel The Sprits
Wolf People - Ruins

Tracks

David Bowie – Lazarus/ I Can’t Give Everything Away
Bon Iver – 8 Circle
Iggy Pop – Break Into Your Heart
Aoife O’ Donovan – Stanley Park
Mogwai – Ether
Teenage Fanclub – I’m In Love / Thin Air
White Denim – Had 2 Know (Personal)
Ryley Walker – Roundabout
Nick Cave – Skeleton Tree

Re Issues of the Year

Neil Young – Time Fades Away
Kate Bush – Before The Dawn

Live

Muse – O2 London
A last minute decision to see the band on the Drones tour. Crashing drones and spectacular lights, still one of the best touring events around.

Neil Young – O2 London
This was a memorable gig for me for all the wrong reasons. The week beforehand I was not feeling to good. The day of the gig still no better, thinking that all I had to do was sit there and listen. Drove to the O2 started shivering. Managed to sit through most of Laura Marling’s set. But after throwing up on the seat in front of me (no one was sitting there at the time) just had to leave. Sorry Neil, hopefully another time.

Elvis Costello – Bristol

Elvis and his imposters doing a surprise few European dates. Still trying to figure out why Steve Nieve was dressed as the Home Pride flower man? A lot of early material plus a couple of new songs from the stage show he is involved with.

Ryley Walker – Guildford

After last year seeing Ryley with his band, this time solo in a church. A lot of new songs from Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, which was released the following week.

Phill Cook – Guildford

The Carolina based guitar man who has worked as a session musician – most notably with Bon Iver – on tour to promote his rather fine 2015 album – Southland Mission.

Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Guildford

The last gig with the current line up.

Frank Turner & The Sleeping Souls – Guildford

Along with Ryley Walker, Frank Turner is another of those artists that make me hate everything about Simon Cowell and his get rich quick brand of pop music. Gig number1997 on his version of the never ending tour. Frank arrived in Guildford, with passion, drive and energy. The only other artist that I have witnessed live that seems to ‘get it’ was Bruce Springsteen. Why Frank is not a bigger ‘name’ is beyond me. Is he holding back, happy with the level of success that he has achieved, or are people just not interested in his brand of left leaning pop hooks in sufficient numbers, but are happy to throw cash at the antichrist Cowell and his acts? The likes of Muse will always come out top when it comes to a public vote for top live act purely as more people will have seen them. But in my world Frank is at the top and has probably been for the last few years.

Reading matter

Chrissie Hynde – Reckless - 2015

Covering her life up to the Pretenders 2nd album. The self confessed junkie/alcoholic opens up about her early life. Her nearly marring John Lydon and Sid Vicious to stay in the UK in the mid ‘70’s.

John – Cynthia Lennon – 2005

Much of her story is well documented else ware. Reiterates how bad a father Lennon was to Julian in his early years.

Prince. Matt Thorne – 2012

Spookily, I picked this up just a couple of weeks before he passed. A well researched book documenting virtually every song put to tape by the star. If they ever get around to issuing any of his ‘Vault’ Matt Thorne must be the person to go to for getting the project into order. Not only studio performances but live work. Matt was at most of the O2 run of shows in London and the after parties.

David Hepworth – 1971 – Never A Dull Moment – 2016

The book in which Mr Hepworth makes a compelling case for the year in question being the beginning of the rock era and rock album. Each chapter details a month with much humour.

Wilko Johnson – Don’t You Leave Me Here – 2016

It’s a bit sad to think that until his much publicized brush with the grim reaper, Wilko has become a national treasure. The chapter in which he details his first and only appearance at Glastonbury probably sums my feelings and his. Would this book have been commissioned if he had not become ill? It would still be a good story without the cancer. Like loads of great bands and artists that don’t get heard, there are probably thousands of great stories that never get published.


Jon Savage – 1969 : The year he Decade Exploded (2015)

After the David Hepworth book, I sort of expected to be a similar tomb for the year 1966. It takes the same format, each chapter taking a month of the year but the music is more of a soundtrack rather than the subject. Chapters tackling subjects , LSD, Fashion, Vietnam, Andy Warhol, The rise of Woman’s rights. For me I found too much detail relating to US student rights and protest to be bothered with. It’s obviously an important subject, but I just did not find it engaging.

Mark Radcliff – Reeling In The Years (2011)

After the J Savage book, this was a sheer joy to read. Radcliff’s humour and musical knowledge make this one of my favourite reads of the year.


2017 what’s on the horizon? New albums from Flaming Lips, Fleet Foxes, Grizzly Bear, The XX, Elbow



Julian White ©2016



Bloggggg 2015


"KEEP MUSIC PHYSICAL"


Over my working years, too many now, many colleagues have said to me, especially in recent times, something like this.. Damn, the local pub is closing, what will I do now!. I always thought, come on, it’s not that bad, get over it. As I type this at the end of the first week in December 2015, I probably now feel a bit like some of those poor old fools. News came through last night that my regular local independent record store (Peoples Independent Records – Guildford) is to close. Run and owned by Howard Smith, he has decided to call it a day, not entirly for financial reasons. He ran the store on his own, and after seven years, he needed time off from six days a week. Unfortunately no buyer was willing to take over the business so the inevitable running down and selling off of stock will begin.

After Fopp closed in Guildford I began using the shop on an irregular basis but over the last three years, most Fridays I spent a good half hour or so chatting with Howard, who recommended a good number of albums to purchase, as well as stuff that I had read about or herd. This was my equivalent to the local pub. This is what is missing from the likes of HMV, who’s staff will sell you any old shit without so much as eye contact.

R.I.P People’s, good luck Howard…

Half way through February and The Independent news paper business pages reported that the NME might be going to become a free sheet distributed via the student union network – their target audience. A quick denial followed but it could not hide the fact that its circulation had slumped to just 15,000 copies pr week. At it’s high 300,000.

By July, NME publishers confirmed the rumour and in September would become a free sheet and expand its content to include more film, TV, politics and lifestyle. To be distributed at stations etc. like Time Out. So it’s tough shit and goodbye to one of its loyal purchasers of the last 45 years. I’m hardly it’s target audience (that probably ceased some 30 years ago) but it was useful for discovering up and coming bands and artists which I am still very much interested in.

Having to rely more than ever on advertising, how will the publication manage to balance it’s independent views without pissing off it’s paymasters….within a few weeks we found out!

Although I have bought the thing every week since 1969, I still prefer to read the physical version rather than try to navigate the awful ad obsessed web site version on a tablet. Every time you try to scroll down the page another advert pops up.

When the print and download version reappeared in September, It was virtually unrecognisable. As I type this out at the beginning of December, I have still to see the physical edition. All the local indie shops I frequent tried to give the thing away, but they had to agree to take so many copies that it was impossible to comply with the publishers wishes so had to pass. My local HMV’s seem to have had the same problem and don’t stock it. However, having downloaded the iPad version there seems no point in trying to obtain the print edition.

To illustrate just how NME have drifted into pop’s main stream, Scroll through the NME end of year albums and singles and it’s pretty depressing. (The Coldplay album had not even been released & Album of the year by Grimes had not had a physical release when they published the list.) Artists including Miley Cyrus, Carly Rea Jepson, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, The 1975 & The Weekend that twelve months ago NME would not have wasted printing ink on are now the toast of 2015! During November, Sighting Justin Bieber’s ‘Purpose’ as one of the important albums still to come in 2015, and including adverts for The Vamps! The indie content was considerably downgraded… along with its overall coverage of music. So now we know who the advertisers target readership is.

However, with only two albums being reviewed (only one some weeks) and just a further half dozen being listed, plus half a dozen tracks to listen out for, the existence of NME must be called into question as music weekly. The editorial was less than 50% of the edition, and of that less that 30% was dedicated to music. The first cover star was the Mega diva Rhianna. The ‘star’ who treats her fans with complete contempt and has nothing to give the world of music except umbrellas! See the Mark Ellen book review below…. The publishers should have merged the title with Uncut to keep the brand alive and valid as a paid for quality monthly. Or they should have just closed the publication and called the re launched paper NEE - (New Entertainment Express).

Just have to accept the world moves on and everyone under the age of about 25 believes that music is free so why should you have to pay to read about it!

The same week The NME announced it‘s God Like Genius Award for 2015, Suede. Mmmm.. struggling to find a genuine god deserving of the accolade. Hardly in the same league as John Peel, Michael Evas, Joe Strummer or even the Manics. OK so they had some game changing singles in the early ‘90’s and their first couple of albums were pretty good but since then, the splits, reunions and an OK album hardly puts them in the god like category. I guess the problem NME has is that many really deserving artists, producers or music related people are not willing to accept the gong. A few years back Morrissey was reported to have been offered the title but rejected it. He then went on to say that this was why they did a hatchet job on him resulting in him suing the paper.

RIP NME…

After last years decision by Apple to discontinue developing and producing the iPod classic, I decided to look around to see what other companies are producing that fits my requirements. Sony sell a new Walkman that plays FLAC and Apple Lossless files for about £160.00. Sounds interesting. So picked one up and gave it a go. The construction compared to the iPod is .. well a bit amateurish. Plastic and cheap best describes it. But it does have blue tooth, USB connection and a headphone socket.

1st problem is that it only came with 16Gb of memory. OK it has a slot for Micro SD cards so in theory at the moment you can expand it by 128Gb. For the time being I inserted a 32Gb card. So far so good. It does come with an ‘iTunes’ type interface, but it is so bad that it is easier to forget about that. As I have all my CD collection stored on a NAS drive in Apple Lossles & FLAC format it was just a case of dragging and dropping my desired files onto to internal memory or SD card, and it works… sort of… However, the USB is only used for loading up the device from a PC and for charging it. Cannot be used for playback. The Bluetooth connection works, but what a pain in the arse. Although it has a ‘Remember Connection’ setting, most of the devices I connected it to refused to remember the walkman and I had to go through the re connect procedure every time I wanted to use it.

Not all bad though. The sound quality is fantastic listening back to lossless files through noise cancelling headphones or through the Bose sound bar. Even sounds good in the car when I can be bothered to keep re connecting the Bluetooth! Sony could be on to something here if it sorts out the niggles I have come across.

In July, I became a criminal again (along with probably several million other people). The high court overturned the law (in the UK) that came into effect last year regarding the ripping of music and film to portable devices for your own personal use. The rest of the world can do this except the UK and probably the EU countries. Seems that artists and producers want a tax put on USB sticks, blank CD’s DVD’s, Hard drives, iPods & iPads, people whistling, in fact anything that can re produce their work, regardless whether the devise has been purchased for anything but storing music or movies on, to give them a protected income until time ends. Fine, can I have a tax put on every aircraft passenger that use any aircraft that I have made components for?

The annual Bowie award to surprise announcement came from Blur, again in February , with the announcement of their 1st new album as a 4 piece in 16 years.

The Tories went on to win an election that the polls predicted was unwinnable. But the trendy left wing more outspoken pop stars and personalities reaction was more predictable! If the left wing want to win, give us something worth voting for. They think they have. In September Labour elected a Hard left candidate as Fararge is as hard right candidate. Jeremy Corbyn to lead the party to victory in 2020?

One day (probably not in my lifetime) we may get a fair voting system in the UK (1.5 Million votes gets 56 seats for the SNP, 2.5 million votes get 1 seat for the green party) Seems fair!!! If that sort of thing happened in some banana state or former soviet state the UK government would be claiming vote rigging and fraud.

In September, the Piggate controversy kept us amused. If stupid lewd behaviour by teenagers disqualified people from public office later in life, Morrissey would be the only person allowed to run!

Back to music…

Still can not believe that music is getting (legally) so cheap. Not complaining. Last year someone gave me the book 1001 albums you should hear… Picked up a load of Jazz & Blues CD’s listed from HMV (UK) for £2 & £3! I know downloading is convenient but when you can buy the better quality CD for a fraction of the price, have people not figured out that they can rip the CD (not in the UK though!) and then theoretically throw the CD away for a fraction of the price of a download. Keep music physical!

A side issue with CD vs Vinyl. The main argument in the ‘80’s was the cost of the CD media. The average cost of a new vinyl release now is £20. You can get two new release CD’s from HMV for £15.

So Tesco is now getting in on the vinyl act. It wants to see off the last of the high street record stores by starting to sell vinyl. I suggest that record shops start selling baked beans and bread to stay in business.


Recordings 1. Albums

First, some great albums that seem to have been forgotten by the ‘taste makers’

Noel Gallagher – Chasing Yesterday
The Vaccines – English Graffiti
Black Rivers – Black Rivers
Guy Garvey – Courting The Squall
Squeeze – Cradle To The Grave
Villagers – Darling Arithmetic
Belle And Sebastian – Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance
Kathryn Williams – Hypoxia
Frank Turner – Positive Songs For Negative People
Foo Fighters- Cecelia EP

…and some great albums the critics did manage to hear…

Ryley Walker – Primrose Green
The Unthanks – Mount The Air
Sufjan Stevens – Carrie & Lowell
Blur – The Magic Whip
Florence + The machine – How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Mac DeMarco – Another One
Tame Impala – Currents
F.F.S. – F.F.S.
Deerhunter – Fading Frontier
John Grant – Grey Tickles, Black Pressure
Jamie XX – In Colour
Gaz Coombes – Matador
Unknown Mortal Orchestra – Multi-Love
Panda Bear – Panda Bear Meets The Grim Reaper
Courtney Barnet – Sometimes I Sit And Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
Alabama Shakes – Sound And colour
Phil Cook – Southland Mission
Foals – What Went Down
Laura Marling – Short Movie
Hot Chip – Why Make Sense?


Recording 2. Tracks

David Bowie – Dark Star
Wolf Alice – Freazy
The Vaccines – Give Me A Sign
The Unthanks – Mount The Air
The Chemical Brothers/Beck – Wide Open
The Barr Brothers – Come Into The Water
Sufjen Stevens – No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross/I Should Have Known Better
Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Candle Book And Bell
Squeeze – Happy Days
Ryley Walker – Sweet Satisfaction
Ryan Adams – Bad Blood
Phil Cook – Ain’t It Sweet
Noel Gallagher – Lock All The Doors
Mumford & Sons – Believe
Matthew E White – Rock & Roll Is Cold
Mac DeMarco – The Way You’d Love Her
Low – What Part Of Me
Leon Bridges – Coming Home
Laura Marling – False Hope
Kurt Vile – Pretty Pimpin’
Kendrick Lamar – Alright/King Kunta
Kathryn Williams – Tango With Marco
Julian Holter – Feel Yoy
Johnny Marr – I Feel You
Jamie XX – Loud Places/Obvs
Gwenno _ Patriarchaeth
Guy Garvey – Angela’s eyes
Grimes – Flesh Without Blood
Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia
Foals – Mountain At My Gate
Florence + The Machine – Ship To Wreak
Father John Misty – Hotel Lobby No4
Blur – Ong Ong


Gigs

Elbow – Hammersmith Apollo

Having seen Elbow on a number of occasions over the last few years, this was a chance to see them again in a smaller venue doing some of their older songs. Always a joy. Looking forward to hearing Guy’s solo album.

Morrissey –BIC Bournmouth

A good selection of hits followed by Meat is murder accompanied by the counter productive animal rights ‘snuf’ film. People were just looking away, so what was the point. If it was toned down maybe people might have watched and sympathised. By September Morrissey decided to take his ball home. He complained that the record companies were not interested in him as a solo act. I’m no expert but I would guess that he has a similar size world wide audience as say Van Morrison. So how does he manage to record and release new material and tour constantly?


Ryan Adams – Hammersmith Apollo

The third time I have seen Mr Adams. Now with quite a large back catalogue, he managed to play songs from a large selection of them. A particular favourite was The stars turn blue & New York from Gold. Support was from Jessica Pratt who he joined for a song in her set and she joined him for a couple of songs in his set

Norman Blake & Friends – Dakota Tavern Toronto



Norman Blake & Joe Pernice


At the beginning of April found myself in Toronto at the same time that Norman Blake, Joe Pernice and friends were doing a Friday night residence at the Dakota Tavern. A few Teenage Fanclub favourites plus New Mendicants & Jonney tunes and a few classic pop tune covers and even some time to play Candy Crush!

Elvis Costello Detour X 2

Booked tickets for the first night of his solo detour in Sailsbury. No support just him and a film of his dad singing If I had a hammer. By the time of the last date in Basingstoke he had been joined by support duo Larkin Poe who helped him out on a few songs and his brother who lent a hand to Pump It Up and What’s so funny… All ways a joy to see and never lets you down .

I seem to have run out of enthusiasm for rushing around the country mid week or rather sitting in traffic for 3 hours unless there really is a gig or artist I desperately want to see. Sadly, these seem to be a bit thin on the ground this year.

The last three gigs were put on by Howard Smith, owner of the 4th smallest record shop in the UK, Peoples Independent Records in Guildford (Sadly closing, see above). He put on a good seven or eight this year. Despite the shop closing, Howard hopes to keep putting on some gigs. Hopefully there will be a similar amount in 2016. These were just the ones I was around for.

Ryley Walker, The Unthanks & Aofie O’Donavan. All these gigs were outstanding In small venues around Guildford. Aofie elected to play with no amplification at The Keep and held the audience for 90 minutes. Playing tracks from her soon to be released new album and older material. Ryley crammed his five piece band into the small 60 capacity Keep pub and played most of my album of the year Primrose Green.

The Unthanks played the ‘Big Church’ at the top of the high street to a capacity crowed. Songs from across their career, but could have done without the hour intermission, which for me disjointed the evening.


Reading Matter

Rockstars Stole My Life – Mark Ellen (2014)

This great read from the DJ, TV presenter, Editor at large for EMAP starts with a few chapters that could have been about me. Gigs at Wheely, Farnborough Tech, Guildford Civic Hall & Bracknell sports centre was my life in the early 70’s! It ends with what is all wrong with the entertainment industry today. The badly behaved and don’t give a shit attitude of Rhianna on her 7 day jaunt around the globe to promote herself and host of global products. Make’s Elton John of the 90’s seem like a choir boy.

Dear Boy: The Life Of Keith Moon – Tony Fletcher (2005 Edition)

Larry Hagman & Keith moon, Two people you probably would not put together in a room! This well researched and detailed account of Moon’s life. The hyperactive boy that became one of the world most famous celebrities and rock drummers – not necessarily the best. It says on the cover “top flight airport reading…NME” You would have to have some serious delay to read the 580 pages while at the airport! The detailed account of hotel room destruction got a bit tedious after reading about it for the umpteenth time, but as a detailed record of Moon’s life I guess it’s as accurate account as you can get.

All Things Must Pass: The Life Of George Harrison – Marco Shapiro (2002)

One of the first books to appear after the death of Harrison. A bit light weight after the Moon biog. Almost a run through, especially the Beatles years. Probably better Harrison biogs around, but for a few pence picked up from a charity shop, I can’t grumble.

Unfaithful Music, Disappearing ink. Elvis Costello. (2015)

On page 46 of this 660 page monster, he says many people will shed a tear when he recalls the following story. It concerns his father Ross, securing all four Beatle autographs for a young Elvis. What he did then will make any collector of music memorabilia shriek in disbelief. It has to be read. Even if you are not a fan of Costello or his music, it is a great insight into the music world of the last 60 years plus. Including fascinating insights into most of his writing collaborations, singing and producing credits, his inspirations and a lot about his dad, Ross, probably one of his biggest inspirations. A surprising amount of personal stuff considering his reluctance to speak on personal matters over the years. Few omissions including his film appearances and the breakup of the Attractions that was briefly glossed over. But these are minor beefs.

Going Off Alarming – Danny Baker (2014)

The second part of a planned three part autobiog. Taking in the period from 1980 to 1998. Again written in superbly entertaining manner. For me the funniest story involves Nick Lowe and Bob Dylan. A whole chapter on Paul ‘Gazza’ Gascoigne and his unique relationship with his bank manager. Here’s to part three…

Coming soon...

New albums from..

David Bowie, Aofie O’Donavan, Elton John, Suede, Daughter, Bloc Party, Steven Wilson,
Lucinda Williams, Turin Breaks, Mystry Jets, The Last Shadow Puppets, Teenage Fanclub,
Field Music, PJ Harvey, Jake Bugg, Villagers.... and ....

Julian White ©2015