Sunday, 30 November 2014

George Harrison & His 71st Birthday

George; a 71 year saint would have looked fondly his lawns in Friars Park as he awoke on the 29th Of November. His death day. Unfortunately George is not able to act this scenario for me, as he passed on in 2001.

Personally, George has always been the Beatle who spoke to me. George always seemed, better. Ringo was the one I think I could of been buddies with, he would say a joke, I'd say a joke. Paul was the one who I reckon I'd be friends with but I'd get I'd feel a little too clean if I spent too much time with him. John is the one who is raw and unafraid. George was silent, funny, and thoughtful, exactly how I like humans.

You'll find everyone talking about him nowadays. How he had the best post-Beatles solo album; the immaculate All Things Must Pass, how he had the first and last solo number 1 out of all the Beatles: My Sweet Lord & Got My Mind Set On You. And about how Martin Scorsese made one of the best documentaries ever about him Living In The Material World .

The cult of George is large, fruitful and enterable. He could do pop, world, psychedelic, Blues, Rock, Old-time, folk and almost anything he felt like doing.

Here i'm going to recommend a few deep cuts of his to the uninitiated.

I'd Have You Anytime (1970) 

Now, its hard to say anything on All Thing Must Pass is ignored, but this song is a pure classic. If I were asked, what does All Things Must Pass sound like? I'd show them this track, its near pure perfection, wrote by mssrs Dylan & Harrison.

Miss O'Dell (1973)

A B-side to a groupie in the middle of his divorce from Patti Boyd, surely its a creepy love song? 
No, it really isn't. It was the B-side to Give me Love (another bit of gold). Chris O'dell herself was very fond of the song and used the name as the title for her very-readable autobiography. 

Dark Horse (1974) 

How can the song an album is named after be a deep cut? Because the album was/and is neglected. George's voice is perhaps, well terrible, but the songs itself is very very good, and several bootleg versions show George singing it with his voice in a far better condition. 

This Guitar (Can't Keep From Crying) (1975)

A sequel to While My Guitar Gently Weeps. The song naturally fails to beat its predecessor but is itself a very good track, If a bit uninspired. Alongside You it is the album highlight of Extra Texture one of George's most ignored albums. 

Crackerbox Palace (1976)

The Harrison fans will now start saying how this is not a deep cut. No it isn't, its a beautiful song wrote about Lord Buckley's house. Its crazy, monty-python-in-music goodness, and is a under recognised tune. 

Mo (1977) 

This is without a doubt the rarest song on this list. It was wrote for Mo Ostin the president of Warner Bros Records. It is a beautiful throw-back to George's earlier solo career.

Faster (1979)

George's F1 obsession in single form. Its was probably George's best tracks since 1973 in my opinion. Its a very good tune.

Flying Hour (1980) 

One of the songs that were rejected from the Somewhere In England album by Warner Bros, (3/4 of them are classics). This would have been the best song on that album, I still have no clue why they were rejected. 

Circles (1982) 

One of George's most outlandish tracks, proving just how unique it was, only George could have made it. 

Devil's Radio (1987)

Gossip, is the Devil's Radio. This is George's response to all the rumours about him during his 5 year absence from the music industry. Cloud 9 is a damn good album, and i'm also in love with Thats What It Takes but that is far too pop to be said aloud. 

Looking For My Life (2002) 

George posthumous album was one of his finest. It easily rivalled Cloud 9 while being slightly worse than All Things Must Pass and Living In The Material World. This song is perhaps his most Beatles track on the record. 

RIP My Sweet Lord

Ronnie Montrose Would Be 67th Birthday

"You know you don't please everybody" - Ronnie Montrose
 Ronnie Montrose; the leader ofAmerican rock band: Montrose & Gamma passed away on the 3rd March 2012. If he had lived he would have been 67 today, 29th November 2014.

Ronnie's first foray into the music world was in band Sawbuck with Bill Church, but in the middle of recording Sawbuck's debut, producer David Rubinson gave Ronnie a audition to play on Van Morrison's Tupelo Honey. Ronnie got the job.

Ronnie then played with Boz Scaggs, before joint the Edgar Winter Group, where he played on such hits as Free Ride & Frankenstein. 

With Sammy Hagar in 1973, he formed Rock band Montrose. The band released two albums Montrose (1973) and Paper Money (1974).

The second edition of Montrose with Bob James instead of Hagar released two albums Warner Bros Present…. Montrose (1975) & Jump On It (1976) before breaking up.

Ronnie's first solo release was the all-instrumental Open Fire (1978). Ronnie then started Hard Rock band Gamma who released 3 albums initially and a 4th in 2000.

In Ronnie's later years he reunited with Montrose (with Sammy Hagar) and performed on-and-off until 2011, when he formed the Ronnie Montrose Band.

However on the 3rd March 2012, Ronnie shot himself. Committing suicide.

RIP Ronnie Montrose

Friday, 28 November 2014

Jimmy Page On Royal Blood "Absolutely riveting"

In a recent interview with NME (See here), Jimmy Page has said that Royal Blood (Young UK Hard rock band) are capable of "Taking rock into a new realm".

Jimmy Page praised the rock duo in the interview saying that "Their album has taken the genre up a serious few notches". Page saw the duo in New York in May, and complimented they performance "They were fantastic. Absolutely riveting".

Royal Blood will be opening for The Foo Fighters alongside Iggy Pop during The Foo Fighters 2015 UK tour. Meanwhile Jimmy Page has expressed interest in touring in 2015, and has recently published a pictorial autobiography.

Royal Blood's Little Monsters

Most significant Beatles performances

In honour of the 40th anniversary John Lennon's last concert appearance: 28th November 1974. I'm going to list the top 5 most significant Beatles performances of their career.

The band's touring schedule was famously cut short in 1966, after becoming increasingly annoyed with the fact that they could not hear themselves perform, and the fact that there songs could no longer be recreated for a audience with just 4 Beatles.

Tour with Roy Orbison (May 18th - June 9th 1963) 

Riding high off their Please Please Me album, Brian Epstein (The bands manager), organised a 'joint' tour between the Beatles and Rock N Roll superstar Roy Orbison. 

The Beatles during the tour were reportedly shown up by Orbison's performances, and reports claim that Roy stole almost every show. 

During the performances The Beatles wrote She Loves You and All My Loving during the tour. 

George and John continued their friendship with Orbison after the tour, and George and Roy created the Travelling Wilbury's together alongside Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty & Bob Dylan.

Ed Sullivan Show - February 9th 1964. 

The only certainty on a list like this. Its said their appearance changed the world. Its hard to argue it didn't. 

The show was possibly the first moment of international Beatlemania, and their unthreatening performance would set the stage for a live career of being unable to hear themselves. 

Shea Stadium - August 15th 1965 

The world's biggest concert ever. At that point. 

55,000 teenage fans, Sunday evening, and The Beatles, perhaps the hysteria at the performance was valid. 

The record-breaking nature of the concert is what makes it significant. But the concert was also filmed, and shows a remarkable visual capture of Beatlemania, and the hysteria, and fandom which the Beatles spawned.

Manilla, Philippines - July 4th 1966 

This gig is significant not for being anything special of a performance, but for the aftermath of the concert. 

The significance started because the first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos (Still alive), invited them to lunch. Brian Epstein refused (As it was The Beatles policy to refuse such requests). In return the public lashed out as they saw the refusal as a affront to Marcos, as did Marcos herself. 

The band quickly fled out of the Philippines, however not their way to the airport they were attacked by a mob, and Mal Evans (The band long-tern roadie) was even carried off by the mob. 

In the end the band had to pay their earning from the concerts in Manilla, just to escape.

This escapade made the Beatles become far less enthusiastic about touring. They would stop touring a month later. 

Rooftop of Abbey Road Studios - January 30th 1969

Perhaps the most stereotypical Beatles moment. Due to its inclusion in the Let It Be film. 

The 4 Beatles, as well as Billy Preston went on the roof of the Abbey Road Studios to give the film something interesting. The passers-by no doubt agreed that it was interesting. 

In the performance the band played a series of their unreleased songs from their Let It Be album, before the police arrived to order The Beatles to stop playing. 

Upon which John Lennon said in typical Beatles enduring fashion "Thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition". 

Koerner, Ray & Glover

Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Phil Ochs and Koerner Ray & Glover. 1 of these names is a household name, 2 of these names recognisable for most music fans, but 1 is left to be ignored by all who are not experts on folk. Koerner, Ray & Glover met at the university of Minnesota, and became stars of the Folk revival.

Their breakthrough album Blues, Rags and Hollers was released in 1963, to heaps of success which gave them a recording contract for 2 albums with Elektra.

Together they have been credited with influencing many musicians including: Bob Dylan & Bonnie Raitt.

The trio continued to reunite throughout the 20th century, until 2002, when Ray died on the 28th of November. Koerner & Glover meanwhile still perform together infrequently.

This post was made today in appreciation of Dave "Snaker" Ray who passed on today, 12 years ago.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Tom Petty on Travelling Wilburys

Tom Petty has recently done a interview with Classic Rock Magazine (Read it here). In the interview Petty talked about The Travelling Wilburys, the supergroup he was part of alongside George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynne & Roy Orbison.

The band came about due to Harrison needing a B-side for This Is Love. The song which came about Handle With Care was deemed far too good for a simple B-side by the band. So they decided to form The Travelling Wilburys (A recurring joke of Harrison's).

In the interview Petty said "That extra track turned into the Travelling Wilburys. It was a wonderful time. There was never a negative moment doing that. We really enjoyed that. I think we made that record for us really"

"Those 10 tracks were all we did. We'd go and cut the track. We'd have to dinner, and work on the lyrics over dinner, and then go to do the vocals - Bang. I love those guys" said Petty. The Band released two albums Vol 1 & Vol 3.

Twin Peaks - Band Profile

17th February 2015 - 100 Club, London.

Mark the date. Because one of the hottest commodities in contemporary music are in town. Twin Peaks, are a power pop/jangle pop band, they are perhaps one of the most talented bands of their genre nowadays and their album Wild Onions of 2014, was very very good.

The band playfully intwine their guitars to echo the sounds perhaps most accurately of Weezer. Whose similar power chords and power pop dual combination are perhaps nearing identical to Chicago's Twin Peaks.

Al Jackson Jr - Would-Be-79-Birthday

"Al Jackson was the greatest single stroke player I ever hear in my life" said Steve Cropper , in a interview with Jim Payne for his book Give The Drummers Some!.
Perhaps one of the greatest stories in American music history, is that of the multi-racial Booker T & The MGs, named by their drummer Mr Al Jackson Jr. The band broke boundaries limited in music, by having 2 white players; Donald Dunn & Steve Cropper and 2 Black players Al Jackson Jr, & Booker T. Unfortunately just Booker T & Steve Cropper are still with us today.

Perhaps the ground shaking nature of the band, set them apart from their contemporaries and allowed them to be one of the very few acts who emerged post original Rock n Roll (1954-1959) and the Beatles induced rock era (1963 - ). Their quintessential hit Green Onions is such a part of Western culture that it is grained into us seemingly by birth.

Al Jackson, alongside the rest of Booker T & The MGs, backed many of the greats of soul music during their time with Stax Records. During this time Al backed mega-stars like: Otis Redding, Albert King, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Eddie Floyd and Carla Thomas.

Alongside many Stax artists, and members of the MGs he helped co-write hits such as Respect, which would go on to be one of the quintessential songs for Racial equality and Gender equality when recorded by Aretha Franklin.

In the 70s Al helped co-write many Al Green's biggest hits including his mega-hit Let's Stay Together. While also begin a session drummer for multiple stars such as Eric Clapton, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, and Tina Turner among multiple others.

However the story of Al ended on a horrible early morning of October 1st 1975, before 3 am. Al returned home having been to the cinema with Eddie Floyd & Terry Manning, to watch The Thrill In Manilla boxing fight between Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali. Upon entering his home he found intruders in his home, they told him to kneel and they then put 5 bullets into his back, he died there and then. The man who police believed shot him was the boyfriend of Denise LaSalle, he was a apparently a bank robber and he was shot dead by the police on July 15th 1976.

So today If you're doing nothing else, spare one of the greatest drummers of all time, some thought.

Al Jackson Jr
Born: 27th November 1935
Died: 1st October 1975.


Obviously the story is not as simple as I have said, there are many questionable aspects around his death, which are still unknown to his death, like his Wife, who shot him in July 1975. Unfortuantly we may never know the truth.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

NME top tracks of 2014. Why?

Well NME has posted it's top 50 tracks of this year. Naturally it failed to match my personal opinion.

Perhaps the worst part about the list is that they've revealed it over a month before the end of the year. December could have some of the greatest music ever, as far as we know, but alas as William Shakespeare said "December aint no part of a year".

NME's top 10 was
1. Seasons (Waiting For You) - Future Islands
2. Can't Do Without You - Caribou
3. Touch The Leather - Fat White Family
4. Red Eyes -  The War on Drugs
5. Blockbuster Night Part 1 - Run The Jewels
6. Eez-Eh - Kasabian
7. Digital Witness -  St Vincent
8. Zombie - Jamie T
9. Little Monster - Royal Blood
10. Chambers Of Reflection - Mac DeMarco

Basically you can separate these songs into a few sections

1. NME's personal addictions (Fat White Family, Kasabian, Jamie T)
2. NME wanting to be Hip (Caribou, Run The Jewels)
3. Popular indie choices (Mac DeMarco, Royal Blood, St Vincent, War On Drugs)
4. Genuine unique tracks (Future Islands)

Now I love some of the tracks they chose, heres my top 10

1. Red Eyes - The War On Drugs
2. Birth In Reverse - St Vincent
3. Archie, Marry Me - Alvvays
4. Next Time - Curtis Harding
5. Violent Shiver - Benjamin Booker
6. Lazaretto - Jack White
7. Love Letters - Metronomy
8. Seasons (Waiting On You) - Future Islands
9. Chamber Of Reflection - Mac DeMarco
10. Grizzly Bear - Angus & Julie Stone

Jimmy Page's proudest moment…. was with Leona Lewis?

In a recent interview with Uncut, Jimmy Page has said that his greatest achievement outside of Led Zeppelin was performing with X-factor winning singer Leona Lewis at the 2008 olympics in Beijing.

In the interview Page complimented Lewis' vocals during their performance of Whole Lotta Love saying that "She's really plucky, she's superb and she sang 'Whole Lotta Love' brilliantly".

Of the performance he also said that he was very proud that "We didn't fuck it up". "It was a Led Zeppelin number but it took on another persona. I was proud to be able to play that riff for the handover."

Page has in recent interviews discussed the possibility that he will tour in 2015 alongside a backing band, while he in september he discussed with NME that Led Zeppelin are not looking likely to reunite "I don't think it looks as though thats a possibility or on the cards".

Recently Page has also published a self-titled autobiography made up of over 600 photos from across his career.

Felt - The Psychedelic Secret Band

There are two bands called Felt. Both are cult artists. One was a jangle pop group from the 1980s who reached levels of critical fame but barely any popular recognition. The other band is a psychedelic band who formed 2 years after the summer of love and didn't gain any sort of fame for over 20 years.
One of the few things we know of this band is that it was made up of five musicians from Arab, Alabama. Mike Neel on drums, Stan Lee on guitar, Tommy Gilstrap on bass, Alan Darlymple on Keyboard and lead singer and guitarist Myke Jackson (Now Mychael John Thomas). 
Mychael John Thomas was enlisted to help uncover the secrets of this top-secret cult band.

Music-Drop Magazine: How did Felt form?

Mychael John Thomas: Sometime in April or May of 1970 Mike Neel came back from Florida (He had moved there a couple of years earlier). He came to me and said he wanted to start an all original music band, because that‘s what all the bands in Florida were doing. So we started writing songs. Mike went with Everyday Lyfe on a gig and we met this guy named Waddy Berry. We were telling him about our plans to start an original band. He told us he knew a bass player named Tommy Gilstrap and invited us to a free concert in Monte Sano park in Huntsville, AL the following week to meet him (Tommy) as he would be there.

So Mike and I went, hooked up with Waddy, met Tommy, and asked if he’d like to Jam. He said sure. We then asked the promoters if they could work us in for a jam. They said yes, and we took Tommy over to a picnic table to teach him a couple of songs we were working on. I think they were “Destination” and “World.” So we jammed…It was pretty bad, but people seem to enjoy it I guess because we were fast and loud…lol. So afterwards we asked Tommy to come rehearse with us the next week and start a band with us. He said yes. We asked him if he knew any other guitar players who could sing, and he said, “Yeah. Stan Lee, a friend of mine.” So Tommy brought Stan to the rehearsal and we began writing and rehearsing. Sometime later Mike met Allen walking down the street in Arab. He said it was odd because you didn’t see “long hairs” just walking down the street alone in those days…lol. So he brought him to rehearsal that night, and we had keys in the band. I was opposed at first, because I wanted Felt to be an all guitar band, but Allen brought so much to the sound I really liked it in the end. And Allen and I became good friends…

Can you remember any distinct memories from the early days of the band?

MJT: I may have shared his in another interview, but there was this one gig in the fall on ‘70. We were doing a free concert, they were mostly all free lol, at the same park where we met Tommy. It was kind of cold, and this major fog set down on top of Monte Sano Mountain (where the park was). The stage was a concrete amphitheater and the seats cascaded up a big hill. At 10 minutes till time for us to play there were only about 10 or 12 people in the bleachers. So we talked it over and decided to play anyway…good practice.

At the edge of the amphitheater section were woods, very thick with trees of course. So as we hit the first note of our set all these people started out of the woods and through the fog into the seats. It was surreal. By this time we were just about to go into the studio to record our album, so we had a really full set of good material. That was the best live performance of the band I can remember.

Did the band tour often?

MJT: No. We only did a few local gigs, then we recorded an album. We never really got a chance to support the album with a tour because of my arrest.

Did the band ever tour out of their local area?

MJT: We were only ever a local band. Our career ended really before it began.

Did you have much contact with any other "Garage Rock" bands at the time?

MJT: In Arab there were only 3 or 4 bands, and everybody kind of did their own thing. And they were all copy bands, mostly dance music; we were the first all original band in our town, Mike and me that is. In Huntsville there were a lot of bands and maybe 5 or 6 who were starting to venture into original music. There was a lot of talent in Huntsville, but the atmosphere was very competitive. We had a few friends here and there from other bands who would come to a Felt rehearsal now and then. And sometimes we would have an open jam at the end. Those were cool because all the ego came down, and we just played music. To me that’s what it was all about…Friendship and sharing music. It was the end of the ‘60s…We were still hippies.

Was there a big local music scene?

MJT: There were over 100 night clubs in Huntsville, but they were mostly dance clubs. And the club owners didn’t want original music they wanted copy stuff…And not too loud. So there wasn’t a big venue for loud, original rock bands then except in New York and L. A., or London, and we couldn’t afford to go to any of those…So, as I said, we were mostly a free hippy band who never really got started except for an album.

What was your biggest influence on your songwriting?

MJT: Mostly The Beatles, John and Paul. But they were heavily influenced by country music. I grew up in Nashville, TN. Where my dad was a studio musician and played at the Grand Ole Opry every weekend. So songwriting was ingrained I guess. And a lot of rock legends recorded and got started in the South. About the time we finished our album I heard the first YES & ELP albums. I really liked Greg Lake’s song crafting, but I also loved Jon Anderson’s poetry and disregard for form. The funny thing is FELT sounded like YES before we ever knew who they were. We would have done much better I think if we had been able to move to England. They were a lot more supportive of art and music it seemed to me. And then everybody was influenced by the radio; we studied what was on the Top 40 and why.

Did you have any extra songs from this time that weren't included on the album?

MJT: I used to have all the original demo tapes and a couple that almost made the album. But someone stole the box full when I was on the road in 1976. We recreated “Take You Down” for the reissue and “Psychedelic Memoirs.” And I added a bridge to a song called “Don’t Wanna Leave You” and recorded it on a solo album. The album was “Catharsis” I think. But other than that all the masters and demos are lost.

The album artwork of Felt (1971) 

You [Myke Jackson] got arrested for possession while the album was in post-production, correct?

MJT: Yes. Bummer…lol.

How did this affect your thoughts on the band and what you were doing?

MJT: Well I spent eight months incarcerated, so I had a lot of time to think. Mike, Tommy and Allen were actually “snuck in” by one of the employees of the institute where I was, and we jammed all afternoon at the employees house, which was on “campus”…what they called it

Why did felt break up after just one album?

MJT: The answer to this one is kind of a continuation of the previous question. In general I was very paranoid. I had just spent 8 months of my life in jail, so I wasn’t in a hurry to go back. When I got out all the guys in the band were still smoking pot, so it was a no brainer for me…I couldn’t be anywhere near that lifestyle anymore. We actually did get together and jam a time or two, but I changed a lot from the experience of jail time. We just couldn’t re-kindle the fire. And no one but me was really willing to give up the smoke…lol. I was 18 years old and scared.

How did a felt reunion come about after so long?

MJT: Well it was really due to ANATIZISI re-releasing the album. Nick contacted me several times about the project till I said okay. He asked me about bonus material, and the only thing I could think of was “Take You Down.” We had recorded that on the last session in 1970. Our producer thought it was great, but there wasn’t enough room on the album for it. Mike and I really wanted “World” on there, because it was the first song we wrote. So we put TYD in the can. In hind sight I wish we had axed “World” and put TYD on there…But ces’t la vie…lol.

Look At The Sun, The Album Starting Track

How was it to play with your fellow members after 40 years? 

MJT: We missed Allen, who died in an automobile accident in ‘72 or ‘73. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact date. But that was the reason for “Sounds Of Brotherhood” which was a tribute to our friend. Other than that touch of sadness the rest was just great! When we got together, Mike, Tommy, Stan and I, within an hour it was like no time had passed…We were all teenagers again. We really had no intentions of a 2nd album, we were just recording a couple of bonus tracks. But after that first session we all knew the magic was still there. So we began writing and had an album recorded in a couple of months. In fact, that set me on a creative binge that hasn’t seemed to stop yet…I remembered why I loved playing music.

How do you think Felt II compares to its predecessor?

MJT: It’s hard to compare the two in most ways. It was 40 years between. But we tried to think and write in a retro state of mind. Most of my friends asked me if it was old recordings re-released, which I took as a real compliment. Musically I think they are both good, and the writing was good on both, although it’s hard to unlearn 40 years of experience…lol. The funny thing for me was the original recordings were analog reel to reel, and the new stuff was digital. I purposely didn’t use many effects or processing, because I wanted to stay in the technology of the 70s as closely as possible…But in digital there is NO tape noise…lol. No matter how “rough” I tried to record it still came out clean…lol.

Obviously a 2nd album in 1970 wouldn’t have been as polished, but I think we continued that creative spirit that was Felt from the beginning. And the fact that we all so enjoyed seeing each other again came through in the music I think. And it was a much better life experience than the first one…For me anyway.

Did you ever even dream that Felt would be remembered so fondly over 40 years later?

MJT: No I didn’t. All of this took me by surprise. We had some great “missed” opportunities that could have made us an international super-group. But when I got busted that all went away. We had all moved on and forgotten those days, except for an occasional comment from our friends or family. It all really came back when Klemen first contacted me about an interview for “It’s Psychedelic Baby” magazine. He was the one who put me in touch with Nick, and the rest is history, as we say. But the response from those dedicated few fans of our music has been very humbling. It’s kind of made me feel “Yea. Maybe we did change the world…A little.”

Thanks so much for the opportunity to share with you. We all wish you well in your efforts.

Mychael John Thomas, on behalf of FELT.

Below are some useful links which you can use if you want to further research the band yourself.

Felt, 1971 - Album review at
A nice roundup of the band -
The interview referenced by Mychael John Thomas -
Another nice round-up on Felt -
Mychael's bandcamp -

Monday, 24 November 2014

Weezer's River Cuomo IAMA on Reddit. Things we Now know.

In case anyone was wondering I trawl though Reddit. One of the things that I found a few days ago was that River Cuomo of Weezer is doing a IAMA, now this is 4 days later, yet I haven't seen a round-up of it. So I figured whose more qualified than me to do one. A lot of people actually. 

So here are the top 10 things we learnt from River Cuomo's IAMA.  You can read the IAMA here
  1. He's not a big movie guy
  2. What did he think of himself in the 90s? "We Rule" 
  3. When he was younger he really did want to be monk
  4. His pre-gig ritual is that he plays Frisbee with bandmate Scott 
  5. His favourite animal? "Pig" 
  6. He thinks all Weezer fans should here The Beach Boy's Pet Sounds and Ozma's Rock & Roll Part 3
  7. He says "we're confident we're going to keep making kick ass music that we all love" 
  8. When he started his career he tried to look like Rick Moranis. No one thought he did. 
  9. His hobby when not doing music "Going to Shakespeare plays 
  10. The musician he has always felt connected to? "J.S Bach" 

40 years gone: Nick Drake

Unfortunately for everyone with ears sometimes the greatest musicians are simply unknown. The case can be made for Alex Chilton (Of Big Star), of Rodriguez, and of many other musicians. However one thing that they have is the fact that they brign something unique into music.

Never was this case more prevalent than in the story of Nick Drake the English folk songster. On the 25th of November 1974 he (allegedly) committed suicide. Taking from the world one of the greatest song-crafter in existence.

In his lifetime Drake released 3 albums, all of which have achieved a legendary status, in this article I could talk about how he was a under appreciated genius, I could talk about his life, and I could talk about him. However you can read that all here, here, here and here.

Instead I'm going to do a simple music person thing; I'm going to list.

Perhaps you stubbled on this article because you were looking for Nick Drake stuff, or perhaps you were randomly trawling the web, regardless of how aware of Nick Drake you are, you should heed my advice, and put in your headphone, run off to somewhere abandoned and listen to some of the sweetest amazing and heartbreaking music ever made.

So here are MY 5 Nick Drake songs.

River Man 

Perhaps his most atmospheric song. I first heard it when I was in the middle of writing a essay on The Great Gatsby, I paused to play this artist who is so recommended from Rollign Stone to NME. His music spoke to me of subtly, emptiness and sadness, it resounded with me amazingly that day and it still does. 

Northern Sky

The first time I heard this I was in the pouring rain, I was trawling through muddy puddles, alone in the dark surrounded by dark clouds and empty skies. The fragile nature of the song lightened my day, it sounds lightly depressing but overall it made me happy. The fact John Cale played on it just makes it better.

Hazy Jane II 

Perhaps one of Drakes most energetic song, and it isn't even too energetic. This was the first Drake song I ever heard, the background accompaniment meant little to me at the time. What attracted me to him and his music was his voice. How it sounds full confident, yet begging and near breaking point. 

Pink Moon 

Another story. I first heard this while I was sat with some friends in silent doing some work, with this in my ear. I remember that I stopped doing the work and absently gazed at my surroundings, I saw the 'Cooler' kids laughing, prodding and hugging. I saw the 'loser' kids laughing, happy and teasing. I saw my friends laughing, prodding and teasing. The song was the perfect moment for that realisation. 

One Of These Things First

My final song, and final story. This story isn't from the first time hearing it. I remember sitting in my room just 4 months ago, I was sat there worrying, I was going to get my A level results. I thought I need some depressing music. I put on Dylan, It didn't work. I put on Cohen, even that didn't work. So I went to Drake, it wasn't even that depressing. But it worked, I forgot about my worries, and calmly lay on my bed, as I drifted away into the abyss of sleep, only to awake to my results. 

There you go. Nick Drake, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Bob Dylan plays unique concert for one very lucky son of a *****

Yesterday afternoon about 3pm I was in the supermarket. I bought a pack of roll, A pack of chargrilled chicken and a packet of Crackers. I then walked back to my dorm in the rain, and listened to some Replacements on the way back.

While I was listening to I Will Dare one Swedish lucky 41 year old fellow named Fredrik Wikingsson was sitting in Philadelphia's Academy of Music. To his left was no-one, to his right was no-one, behind him was no-one, but in front of him was the greatest artist of the 20th century, and the voice of more than one generation; Bob Dylan, or Zimmy to his weirder fans. 

In the amazing concert Wikingsson was alone, he sat in the second row of the arena. Because as he told Rolling Stone, he thought "the front row might freak him [Dylan] out". 

Photo by Getty.

In the unique concert experience Dylan played 4 songs, Covers of Buddy Holly's Heartbeat, Fats Domino's Blueberry Hill  and Chuck Will's It's Too Late (She's gone), as well as a unnamed "blues jam".

In the Rolling Stone article Wikingsson said that "Part of me was thinking, 'maybe this won't happen and it'll be for the best. I don't want to impose on Mr Dylan. I don't want him to stand there and be grouchy, just hating it" however in the end Wikingsson say the concert was "just so fucking great".

The unique experience was organised by Swedish film series Experiment Ensam. A video of the concert is due to be put up on Youtube on the 15th of December. 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

The 1960s Lost Psychedelic Band: Gandalf

Gandalf is the sort of record the 60s loving hipster you know references to try to seem knowledgable about psychedelic music, it's a pretty obscure record. However since it's release in the late 1960s it has built a large cult following and the band Gandalf is now considered one of the best little known secrets of the psychedelic era. 
Gandalf were together for four years from 1965 until 1968 and despite their cult status not much is popularly known of the band. One person hoping to rectify that is Peter Sando, the guitarist for Gandalf.

Perhaps the most overt Psychedelic album artwork in existence

I met Bob Muller in detention hall in the 7th grade. He had a band [the Thunderbirds] and they were in the process of dumping their guitarist, Michel Nouri, later to become a successful actor. I joined the Thunderbirds, later to become the Rahgoos.” Peter Sando recalled of the band's origin.
Sando's earliest musical influences are common for many his age, they include classic Rock N Roll artists such as “Elvis, Duane Eddy, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard”, more pop-centric hit makers “Patti LaBelle, Franky Lymon & The Teenagers, The Clefttones, Shirley & Lee” and perhaps more surprisingly “Alan Freed” the famous DJ, who helped bring Rock into mainstream culture.
He became a musician by what some would call randomness and some would call realism “When I was 13 my friend had an electric guitar. He lent it to me for one night. I picked the high E string a few times and realized it was the intro to I’ve Had It by the Bell Notes. I was then a “musician”.

Gandalf (The Band not the Wizard).

The band which Gandalf originated from was the Rahgoos, “The original Rahgoos went through many changes and after Bryan Post joined the US Navy reserve we found Dave Bauer and played in NYC where we got our record deal.”.
However once they got that record deal, the Rahgoos stopped being themselves. Their Producers Koopelmen and Rubin decided that Rahgoos simply wasn't a marketable name and instead “told us we would be the Knockrockers. We hated that and bantered about various names”.
“Davy was reading The Hobbit in the dressing room at Scott Muni’s Rolling Stone club in Manhattan and suggested Gandalf and the Wizards. When the album art came back from California, it was Gandalf.”
At first the band seemed promising and Sando’s own songs began to receive airplay “I was surprised when my songs got the FM airplay”.
They didn't tour much though as they remained stuck playing "mostly smokey bars and teeenage nightclubs." Despite that Sando fondly recounts days of "Playing the Night Owl cafe alongside The Magicians, James Taylor and the Flying Machine, The Blues Magoos, The Myddle Class." 
“As the Rahgoos I do recall playing at a Jersey shore bar, D’Jai’s. On Monday Nights they would have oldies acts come in and we, being the house band, would back them up, like The Coasters, Patti Labelle and the Bluebelles! So fun!!”

"The LP flopped when it was released and that was that"

However the fun times were not to last. “The LP was delayed due to a dispute between K&R and Capitol”, and gradually and naturally the band “gave up hope and went in different directions. Davey and I played some gigs as Gandalf, but the LP flopped when it was finally released and that was that.”
Following Gandalf he “played in various bands to make some bread and always pursued a solo career doing the NY/NJ folk circuit and writing and recording my original songs.”

"I have no regrets. It is what it is"

In 2007 however Gandalf released a second album Gandalf II made up of demoes and unreleased material by the band. “Over the years I received many request for out takes and additional material. After discussing this with Bob Irwin at Sundazed, we came up with the collection that was to be Gandalf II. I think there were some cool tracks there and Bob did a great job of restoring the music and putting it all together.”
However unfortunately for Gandalf fans there’s not much hope for a reunion. “Bob Muller is still a good friend, but hasn’t touched a bass in years, although he still has his original Hofner. Frank Hubach and I did a show at Music Millennium a few years back. Dave Bauer sadly has passed away. I don’t think it’s in the cards for any kind of reunion”. However there is some good news for Gandalf fans “I am working on a collection that could evolve into Gandalf 3. Stay tuned!”
However the burning question to Peter Sando is obvious, does he regret that Gandalf never reached fame and fortune? “I have no regrets. It is what it is and I’m still breathing. I’m always amazed at the response I receive from all over the world praising our work from over 45 years ago.
And that the end of possibly the entire saga of Gandalf, but he has a message for all the fans “Thanks to folks like you, Gandalf lives!”.

The full album on Youtube, although who knows how long it'll be up there. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Interview with Don Craine of The Downliners Sect

It's impossible to count the amount of incredible musical giants who were playing in the London R&B scene in the early 1960s. There were The Rolling Stones, The Pretty Things, John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers, The Yardbirds and so many more.
However history tends to forget some of the bands who participated in the scene, on such band are The Downliner Sect, who were possibly better known for their drunken antics off stage then their Blues Rock on stage.
So who are The Downliners Sect? To help me I enlisted the help of their front man Don Craine.

The band is probably best known for having two songs of the Nuggets II compilation; Glendora & Why Don't You Smile Now

Music-Drop Magazine: Who were your earliest musical influences?
Don Craine: Major influences were Lonnie Donegan, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley and Eddie Cochran.

Where did you first hear the Blues?
DC: My first taste of the Blues was watching a Saturday night T.V. show on which I saw Josh White play a version of House Of The Rising Sun. Donegan also played some Leadbelly material on his skiffle records.

Were you in any bands before the Downliners Sect?
DC: My original band, formed at school, was the Downliners. We also went out, on occasion, as Geronimo And The Apaches. We turned professional in 1962.

How did the Downliners Sect form?
DC: In the Spring of 1963 I parted company with the Downliners’ singing lead guitarist Barry Allmark and bassist Kevin Bewley. Keeping drummer John Sutton, I enlisted the talents of Keith Grant on bass and Mel Lewis on lead guitar. No one turned up for the job of singer, so Keith and I did the vocals. A few months later, Mel left to go to university and we were joined by Terry Gibson.

How did the name “Downliners Sect” come about?
DC: Downliners comes from the Jerry Lee Lewis B side Down The Line. I added Sect when I reformed the band, to show that we were dedicated to the music and to having a great time.

What was the R&B scene like in London at the time?
DC: Initially you could only find the music at a few venues like the 100 Club, the Flamingo, the Ealing Club and Eel Pie Island but as the scene grew it took over clubs and ballrooms all over the place.

Did you have much contact with your contemporaries the Yardbirds, Pretty Things and Rolling Stones?
DC:  We often met, and sometimes played, with the Stones at the Studio 51, where we both performed regularly. We also appeared with them at Alexandra Palace and other venues. We only occasionally met up with the Yardbirds and Pretty Things, although we often played on the same circuits. Keith and I did a fair amount of recording with Yardbird Jim McCarty and the Pretties Phil May and Dick Taylor, in the British Invasion Allstars, during the 1990’s.

The band's debut album from 1964. The Sect. 

What do you think it was that set the Downliners Sect apart from the others in the London R&B scene?
DC: I’m not really sure but I know we played  to enjoy life and suit ourselves not others, and I think audiences picked up on this.

Why and when did you start to wear your famous deerstalker hat?
DC: In early 1964 the Downliners Sect was booked to play for the Duke of Rutland and I wore the hat to take the Mickey out of the nobility. I noticed that it attracted comments, so I decided to keep wearing it.

Is it true that Rod Stewart and Steve Marriot both auditioned unsuccessfully for the band? If so why did they fail their audition?
DC: Rod guested with us on a good few occasions and people told us that he’d stated he wanted to join the band but he never said anything to me directly. Steve applied to join when I needed a replacement harmonica player. I didn’t invite Steve to audition, as I knew he wanted to be a lead vocalist as well as a harpist. Rod also had leanings towards being a front man, and Keith and I were happy doing the singing ourselves.

How did you come to be successful in Sweden?
DC: In 1964 our first Indie E.P. At Nite In Great Newport Street was released and put on sale at the Studio 51.  A young lady from Sweden purchased a copy and took it home with her and played it to her father who was head of E.M.I. in Stockholm. When our single Little Egypt was released by E.M.I., the man in Stockholm made sure it was released in Sweden and in went into the Top Ten. I Got Mine and Glendora also hit the charts there and we have been visiting the country ever since.

Little Eygpt, one of the bands early singles

Do you have a most memorable moment from the 60’s with the band? Would you mind sharing it?
DC: My most memorable moments are not for publication. However, a highlight was when the Sect first visited Sweden to play the Stockholm Ice Hockey Stadium. There were thousands of fans screaming and trying to get onto the stage and as we walked down the enormous staircase to the stand, I felt like a god.

Your E.P. The Sect Sing Sick Songs got banned by the BBC. This surely stopped you from being bigger in the U.K.. Do you regret releasing the E.P?
DC: The E.P. was recorded because Keith Grant and I love the Horror genre. I thoroughly enjoy it, and the fact that it was banned by the BBC is a bonus. It may have upset a few people but we got invited to some fantastic parties by some of those who appreciated it and I will never regret recording it.

The Country Sect is seen by a lot of people to be the bands biggest mistake. Do you agree with that view? Why did the band record a Country and Western album, when you were known for Blues-Rock?
DC: It certainly was our least popular album . Some of the tracks were a bit rough and it confused many fans. However, we did things to please ourselves and we were trying to show the roots of British R&B. The Sect represented Blues and R&B, the Rock Sects In represented Rock And Roll and The Country Sect represented Country and was a tribute to the likes of Lonnie Donegan and Hank Williams who were forerunners of the Rock and R&B genre. It may have been a failure but at least, according to the sleeve of the Canadian pressing, and Gram Parsons, we were the creators of Country Rock Music.

The Country Sect. Their 1965 album which was popularly panned. 

Do you have any idea where Pip Harvey disappeared to when he vanished? And why did he leave?
DC: Pip was great fun to work with but, unfortunately, he ran into a little trouble with the law. Consequently, the police began to turn up at gigs looking for him. As a result, as we didn’t wish to see him arrested and sent to prison, it was decided that there was no option but for him to leave the band. Sadly, after that, we lost touch and never met up again.

What do you think is the biggest reason why the band did not join their contemporaries and become household names?
DC: We did better than some, not as well as others. We pleased ourselves, had a rather confusing image and left it far too long before we seriously started writing our own material.

"We played Balls to the wall R&B and didn't give a damn what anyone thought about us"

How and why did the band break up in 1968?
DC: The world had become a little too mellow for the Downliners Sect to thrive and other horizons were calling.

Why do you think the Downliners Sect were so popular with the Punk movement?
DC: I assume they liked us because we played Balls To The Wall R&B and didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about us.

What made the band reform in 1976?
DC: Charlie Records re-issued the Sect album and it went to 12 in the New Wave charts, and some of the Canvey Island bands were giving us credit for inspiring them, so we decided to get back together and the band has been trucking along ever since.

Baby Whats On Your Mind - Another Sect single

In the years since your reformation what has been your favourite moment with the Sect?
DC: I don’t know about moment, but playing the Las Vegas Rockaround was fantastic fun at the time and has been an enormous ego boost when mentioned at parties ever since.

If you could change anything in the Sect’s career what would it be?
DC: I would have had Little Egypt as the band’s first E.M.I. single rather than Baby What’s Wrong and I would like to have seen Glendora in the British Top Ten.

How active are the Downliners Sect nowadays?
DC: We still tour and play one-off gigs, though they need to be booked well in advance as we all have our own projects on the go. I had no idea that it would last this long but I’m bloody glad it has.

The Sect in 2011. "I had no idea it would last this long but I'm bloody glad it has" 

Glendora, their second last single of the 60s.