Sunday, January 28, 2007


Stoned Soul Picnic

Noel Redding with 3.05AM : West Coast Experience
recorded live in San Francisco & Los Angeles in 1998
Prism PLATCD 723


I picked this up for a pound in FOPP with no great hopes of it amounting to much. You probably already know that I'm not generally a fan of live albums, but I'm surprised and pleased to announce this could just be one of the all-time great live recordings.

Noel Redding spent part of his prime backing perhaps the greatest musical innovator of the 20th Century so he has little if anything to prove. He's also spent the best part of 30 years in the wilderness having to cope with the aftermath of the fame and adulation gained in those few short years at the end of the sixties - the man's been through the mill and I'm sure he wouldn't be out to create a carbon copy of the former Experiences.

This album is totally unpretentious. It's simply a good time old fashioned psychedelic blues jam like they used to be - with the addition of one great ingredient which is only available after all this tume - that is MATURITY.

Noel and the band don't even try to stun us with new tricks - they just get on with the business of entertaining us with a spectrum of old favourites from across the board as it was in those days - the Beatles' 'Rain,' Dylan's 'She Belongs to Me,' Bo Diddley's 'Not Fade Away' and of course a selection of Hendrix tunes. They are all executed in a thoroughly professional manner, not even pretending to be anything more than a nostalgic trip down Memory Lane. Much of the credit has to be given to the excellent backing by 3.05AM especially the horn section, but Redding is also very amiable and relaxed in his terse communication with the sympathetic audience to the extent that the CD-listener almost feels present at the event.

There is no clever stuff in the production - it's more than adequately clear but has those fuzzy edges which add extra feeling to the whole laid-back atmosphere generated by the record. It's a great buy.

Real Cool, Man.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


Bionic Bare

Bobby Bare Jr: The Longest Meow
Bloodshot Records BS 132

This is one of those rare records which pop along every now and then that make you sit up and say “Now this is REAL music.” The level of creativity is one step beyond today’s norm and the clear enjoyment invested in these grooves is palpable. You can measure it with a yardstick.

The name Bobby Bare is known to many as one of those Legends of Country from way back, so one tends to assume this must be new country or similar. Then one notices ‘…featuring members of Morning Jacket,….Trail of Dead, Lambchop, Clem Snide’ on the cover and draws the obvious conclusion. Then read, ‘A genre-bending Bobby Bare Jr.., do NOT damn Bobby to the alt-country ghetto!’ and one’s credulity begins to sag.

But it turns out to be right. This is no formula album for that particular cliquey genre. It’s a really eclectic eye-opener. Starts with a short avant-garde noodle ‘Bionic Beginning’ which you want to linger longer over, then it dives into ‘The Heart Bionic’ a brilliant pounding rocker on the subject of techno-reincarnation, in which we learn Bobby runs on electric blood. Cool!

Yer Man has a fascinating adenoidal voice which sounds like it sucked too many Zubes. You can’t fail to love it. Jonathan Richman with a sore throat is the nearest comparison I can provide.

Although there is an underlying country style to the music the predominating vibe is a 70s southern rock groove, enhanced with an appropriate bit of mariachi here, some modern jazz there as the individual number’s mood requires.

This CD’s a great discovery and I want to share it with everybody. So do me and Bobby a favour – get on the net and track it down.

Saturday, January 20, 2007



Eddi Reader: Peacetime Rough Trade RTRADCD233

This record will undoubtedly hit the mark in the folk charts, but it remains to be seen whether it will appeal to a wider audience. Given enough play on the easy listening programmes at weekends on BBC Radio 2, I guess it stands a very good chance. And chance is what it’s all about – success I mean not the record!

Eddi has a very fine voice in terms of quality but I question whether she has the required definitive characteristic which will mark her out from the ever growing field of fierce competition for success among female vocalists. I think we have probably reached the stage not too far off market saturation, so it will take something special for yet another big name to hit the heights.
Eddi Reader already has some recognition gained from her half dozen previous albums especially the success of her Robbie Burns project, and the choice of songs, arrangements and musicians here is clearly of the highest order. I just find her voice that little bit uninteresting enough to query whether this record is good enough to break through any significant barriers. In other words, perhaps it’s just a little bit dull.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Live at the Fillmore East

Neil Young & Crazy Horse: Live at the Fillmore East

I don’t know just what to make of this one. I guess it really comes down to what you think about live albums. Sometimes they can really add to the artist’s cannon of recorded music – other times they just look like an excuse to milk the fans of a little more of their hard earned cash.
My difficulty lies in the fact that this is rather a fine recording of what was seemingly a great performance. But there is no ‘live’ atmosphere to boost the album into a different ball park than the same songs appearing on the more thoughtfully put together studio records [in this case mainly ‘Everybody Knows This is Nowhere’ – one of my all-time Top 5 LPs].

Apart from the slight variation in playlist I would say that unless you’re an NY completist, there is no good reason to spend good cash on this when you can get the original probably much cheaper and the world is brimming with great new music to buy.

So, in short, a very good recording – but of little consequence. It’s up to you.




It is almost impossible to pick up a leaflet issued by B&H City Council without being struck by the PC virtues it apparently espouses. Whether it be their consideration for the environment, the concern they lavish on minority and disadvantaged groups or the lip-service they pay in encouraging community initiatives, they impress by the commitment they seem to give to every section of our very diverse society.

The Fiveways area is noted for a lack of facilities for the youth in its community and The Children's Musical Playhouse, currently operating from Beaconsfield Road, has been struggling to fill a gap in the culture of the area for several years now. Apart from the classes in music and dance provided to the children of local families, there have been successful projects working with handicapped and mental health groups - the very sections of the community the Council is so keen to support.

I was therefore saddened and somewhat surprised to hear that the Environmental Health Department has just refused to allow the music workshop to carry on its normal activities from the present address. This is about the sixth time this popular and worthwhile organisation has had to seek new accommodation. It must be very frustrating indeed for the folk who have put so much effort into developing each venue as they have moved from place to place. It is a mark of the importance and commitment they have in the community that supporters have not allowed them to become totally discouraged to the point of giving up. This is not to mention the amount of expense incurred and the time wasted in finding new funding at each relocation.

Is the Council incapable of putting its money where its mouth is by finding this excellent community initiative a permanent home from where it can get on with the job it has striven so hard to do for so many years without having to worry just how much longer it has to wait before it is forced to move on yet again?

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