Showing posts from 2010

Text Of Festival (7)

Here's some pics and videos to go with the sprawling gig history...

Genesis at Knebworth 1978
My first gig in a field! Only £5.50!! It didn't rain!!!

A slideshow....

Reading Festival 1978
My first three day festival...three nights in a Vauxhall Viva! It still didn't rain!!

...and here's video evidence of Steve Hillage onstage with cartoon punks Sham '69....

Ultravox! doing Slow Motion - great band.

Penetration - Life's A Gamble. I had a thing for Pauline Murray - anyone remember that great album by Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls?...wonder what became of her?

Reading Festival 1979
We had a tent this time. It rained, but only a bit...

Cheap Trick - I Want You To Want Me. They were good fun...

Very little video footage other than …

Deep Purple - Burn

This is part of an occasional series of reviews of old albums that played a significant part in my formative years of musical appreciation.

What is rightly regarded as the classic Deep Purple line up fell apart in 1973 after a constant round of management propelled touring recording and touring again proved too much for Ian Gillan and Roger Glover who both quit that year. Their replacements were Glenn Hughes from funked up blues rockers Trapeze, and an unknown blues wailer from the North East of England, one David Coverdale. With this line up in place they had recorded and released Burn by February 1974, a year in which I was a mere 14 and this was my introduction to the "Purps", as they were known.

Although I was later to agree with the majority that the "MkII" line up of Blackmore/Lord/Gillan/Glover/Paice was indeed the best line up of the band, Burn still holds a special place in my aural vista. If you get past the fact that Coverdale was little more than a Perc…

A small but eclectic year

I always like to think that I have fairly catholic taste when it comes to music, and a perusal of the CDs I have bought in 2010 hopefully shows just that :

Brian Eno & David Byrne - Everything That Happens Will Happen Today

The Fall - This Nation's Saving Grace

Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Frogg CafĂ© - Bateless Edge

Midlake - The Courage Of Others

Joni Mitchell - Mingus

My Brother The Wind - Twilight In The Crystal Cabinet

Neu! - 75

The Pineapple Thief - Someone Here Is Missing

The Pineapple Thief - 3000 Days

The Pineapple Thief - Someone Here Is Live (download only)

French TV - I Forgive You My Unhappiness (download)

Soft Machine - Six/Seven

Soft Machine - BBC Radio 1971 - 1974

Talk Talk - Spirit Of Eden

Scott Walker - Boy Child - The best of 1967-1970

Robert Wyatt - Ruth Is Stranger Than Richard

Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans

Peter Gabriel - Scratch My Back

Scott Walker - In Five Easy Pieces

simakDialog - Demi Masa

Blow Up Hollywood - Fake (a freebie! Thanks Steve M)


RIP Don Van Vliet. A true maverick who will be sorely missed.

Words are not enough, so here's the man in action, starting with an interview on Letterman....

Sure 'Nuff'N Yes I Do

Ice Cream For Crow

Bug Eyed Beans From Venus

Upon The My Oh My (preceded by Mark Ellen & David Hepworth reminiscing on The Old Grey Whistle Test)

With the Magic Band in Belgium 1969....low fi, but fascinating!

Bat Chain Puller

Click Clack

There will never be another quite like him....

The Pineapple Thief - Someone Here Is Live

This is a great live album from a band that deserve success after a long time "paying their dues". For the princely sum of £8 (320 kbps mp3, or £10 for the FLAC version - see end of review for link) you can obtain nearly 2 hours of music recorded live with no overdubs from the band's European Tour in October 2010. A bargain!

Showcasing their Someone Here Is Missing album from earlier in the year, the album also includes many highlights mainly from the more recent part of their career. Some of the songs here are extended versions of the originals, and as such give one a good idea of the band's live dynamic.

Some nice wah guitar features in Tightly Wound, So We Row veers into space rock territory, the 14 and 1/2 minute Too Much To Lose is a lesson in building and releasing musical tension, 3000 Days has a great almost Zeppelin-like coda with some fine guitar thrashing from Bruce. Wake Up The Dead is the song that comes in for the dreaded Radiohead comparison in other …

Blow Up Hollywood - Fake

A recent rediscovery for me are this nigh on un-categorisable and enigmatic band from New York. Fronted by Steve Messina (voice/guitar), ably assisted by Thad DeBrock (guitars, processing), Dave Eggar (cello) and Daniel Mintseris (keyboards), the band give no information on personnel on their album covers, and very little on their website, the info here comes from

They revel in their anonymity, are not easily pigeonholed and have produced a highly varied body of work since 2002. The band have gone from orchestral minimalism to ambient to prog, and have even tackled the dreaded concept album.

This, their second album, was released in 2004, and is a lovingly produced musical journey through love and loss. Fake it certainly is not. Haunting, melancholic and uplifting by turns, there are ten songs on the album, five with vocals, five instrumentals. A simple but effective musical motif runs through the album like lettering in a stick of rock …

Merry Xmas Everybody!

...or not if you loathe reality shows, especially the lowest bland denominator X Factor. This showbiz behemoth has dominated Xmas music sales for what seems like forever with it's soulless tat. That strange beast the General Public, who watch this show in their millions and then buy the trash it churns out can't be all wrong can they? YES THEY CAN. I've just watched the Robert Plant Electric Prom that was broadcast on BBC4 last week. Now over 60 and exuding a calm authority coupled with an ongoing enthusiasm for searching out new ways to present some classic old countryfied material, with the odd Led Zeppelin classic thrown in for good measure, this guy has something that X Factor contestants will never have unless they have already "paid their dues" or if they go on to forge an extremely unlikely 40 odd year career in music - soul. Call it mojo, feeling, spirituality, it's something a game show contestant whose only experience in music is squawking along to …

Amplifier - Insider

I want to like this band, I really do. You see, my best mate raves about them and I like to support struggling bands, so I've just pre-ordered their forthcoming labour of love The Octopus, which comes with 70 page book all made without the help of a record label no less. You have to admire ambition like that, and at £30 I'm hoping it's an improvement on their previous full album, Insider, released in 2006.

In preparation for receiving this mighty work, I thought I would give their sophomore effort Insider a spin. This is an album I've often overlooked in favour of their more immediate self titled debut. The three piece make a good fist of wall of noise guitar rock with the odd sound effect thrown in for good measure. The problem I have with this is a distinct lack of light and shade and a lack of dynamics which leads to it all sounding a bit samey from about halfway in. There was only one modern(ish) three piece guitar/bass/drums band who managed to keep my attention  …

No-Man - Together We're Stranger

This is No-Man's fifth album originally released in 2003. No-Man is a collaboration between vocalist and lyricist Tim Bowness, and Steven Wilson, or "The Hardest Working Man In Showbiz" and this album is a collection of minimalist near ambient and sometimes avant-garde soundscapes over songs that drift along in a dreamy but never unfocused way.

Tim's lyrics are heartfelt paeans to the break up of a relationship as the title track suggests, and melancholy memories in the gorgeous ten minute Photographs In Black And White, amongst other introspective and abstract delights. His voice breathily wanders in and out of the guitar and soundscapes ambient mix, and a harmonium is in there too....and a clarinet...lovely.

If I were to compare Tim's voice with anyone, it would have to be David Cassidy - I kid you not! He has the same range and breathy style. The comparison is purely in a sonic sense, as there any similarity ends.

Reference points include The Blue Nile, and, …

Van Der Graaf - The Quiet Zone/The Pleasure Dome

Van Der Graaf Generator slipped mostly under the radar when I was into prog the first time round, but in the last 20 years or so they have risen to No.1 spot in my list of all time prog acts. This album was the last of the second phase of the band, released in 1977. They would not release another studio album until the third reunion in 2005. Having burnt themselves out physically and creatively by 1972 the first stable line-up split. They reformed in 1975 to release three albums in eighteen months with the same line up. Hugh Banton (customised organs & keyboards & bass pedals) then left again, swiftly followed by David Jackson (saxes, flutes). This prompted frontman Peter Hammill to radically alter the sound and direction of the band, recruiting Nic Potter (bass) who had briefly been in the band at the beginning, Graham Smith (violin), and taking up the guitar himself to become the sonic focal point of the band, and dropping "Generator" from the name to give fans an …

Text Of Festival (6)

First one missed off from last time due to losing the will to live...I'll try harder this time!

Gig no.239 - 27/01/07 - John Cale - Roadmender, Northampton
Exuding the studied menace of a man who has lived most of his life somewhere in the underbelly of left field performance art, Mr Cale enters stage right and launches into his version of Heartbreak Hotel, which if you've never heard it, skewers the original with a six inch switchblade and then tramples on the corpse. Wonderful!
By the second song the heat from the overhead lights was melting his subtle make up, which began to run from his hairline like a new wound. It fitted perfectly, along with his personal aide who stood with his back to the stage at the front staring threateningly at anyone he considered was "looking at my pint" in an unwelcome fashion. High camp but cool with it.
As well as promoting songs from his latest offering, the rather good Black Acetate, he delved deep into his back catalogue and came up w…

Text Of Festival (5)

Last week I said this would be the last it won't, there's too much to cram in....

Gig no.181 - 21/01/93 - Man - Princess Charlotte, Leicester
When I was in seminary school, a man put forth the proposition....hang on I'm getting confused here......
Waaay back in the early 70s my best mate had a cousin who was five or six years older than us and occasionally he used to play us the latest waxings of the time. One of his favourite bands was the Welsh hippy space rockers Man. In 1973 they had one third of the live double album Greasy Truckers (a review - The main part of their contribution was the side long (that's 20 minutes to those of you too young to recall slabs of black vinyl) psych guitar overload masterpiece that was Spunk Rock. Still one of my all time fave bits of music.
Anyway, this gig was the one and only time I got to see the band, and this line up contained three of the original five…

The Orb featuring David Gilmour - Metallic Spheres

There are two tracks on this album. They are - A Sigh At The Gates Of Ennui, and  Soporific On The Far Edge Of Snore. Actually they're not called that at all as that would take way too much effort, maaan. The tracks are actually imaginatively monikered "The Metallic Side" & "The Spheres Side", which must've taken some time to think up.
What do you get when a band famous for their innovations in ambient dub music some 20 years ago meet up with their hero, the least adventurous guitarist in the annals of prog? Answer - wibble to the nth degree. Firstly I should point out that this album is billed as The Orb featuring David Gilmour, not the other way round, so don't expect a Pink Floyd guitar wig out every five minutes. Dave's noodlings never get out of first gear and are no more than the kind of thing he used to do in the ambient bit of Echoes, plain dull. In fact anyone who has ever mastered two chords and has access to an array of effects pedals …

Text Of Festival (4)

Last week there was a cock-up in the list reading department. That teaser about Gig no. 121 - sorry folks, I meant Gig no.180 - same band same venue, but 6 years later! Do we get to it this time??

Gig no.131 - 24/04/88 - Thomas Dolby - Roadmender, Northampton
Left field synth pop from the oddly coiffured Mr Dolby, slightly Germanic in places, strangely strange but oddly normal. Mr Dolby's support act was the R&B (old and proper meaning of the term) wailing of Sam Browne. An odd combination of acts that worked surprisingly well.

Gig no.136 - 11/05/88 - The Sugarcubes - Leicester University
The band that gave the world Bjork. As I remember it the band had two main vocalists, Ms Godmundsdottir (hope that's right) and a shouty bloke who didn't so much sing as give Icelandic Tourettes stylee exclamations aided by amplification. They were very entertaining.

Porcupine Tree at The Royal Albert Hall, London, 14th October 2010

So, did I want to see my current favourite band at possibly the best venue in the country - a no-brainer. The tickets were acquired months ago by Phil W, and he, Phill H and moi trained it down to London full of anticipation. Phill H made it through the chronic back pain barrier to go, and he was rather glad he did. Coming at the end of a 13 month trek around the world, in promotion of their second breakthrough album The Incident, this gig came about in part I'm sure, because Steven Wilson's big buddy Mikael Akerfeldt with his band, Swedish prog metallers Opeth, had played at the same venue earlier in the year.

A rather convoluted trip from Tottenham Court Road tube station to the venue, due to signal failure problems on two different tube lines meant we took our seats in the circle just as the band were taking the stage. The Royal Albert Hall (about a mile west from Harrods, or at the southern end of Hyde Park from a tourist perspective) was built 130 years ago with a design …

Text Of Festival (3)

More from planet noise....

Gig no.51 - 4/08/79 - Led Zeppelin at Knebworth
The first of two shows by the biggest band in the world throughout most of the 70s found us hightailing it once more to deepest Hertfordshire. We were about 50 yards from the front and part of a massive crowd of over 200000 according to Zep's behemoth of a manager, or just over 100000 according to the promoter - the resulting dispute over ticket sales eventually bankrupted the promoter. Peter Grant was not to be messed with! Whatever the actual crowd numbers it was HUGE, as was the stage. I cannot remember anything about the support bands, but according to my list I gave Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes (a poor man's Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band) 8 out of 10. However I can recall Zep belting out a storming version of Kashmir immediately followed by the proto metal-funk of Trampled Underfoot, and they played my fave song Ten Years Gone too. I also remember having to brave the "wash…