Archive for the ‘van morrison’ Tag

Coincidence No. 402

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I’m sitting listening to Let the Record Show (the Dexys LP of 2016, their versions of Irish standards) whilst doing my 2015-16 accounts (close to the wire as usual). I get to the last track, Carrickfergus, and the lyrics

…as black as ink

just as I’m signing the cover letter to my accountant, switching from the red Pilot fountain pen I’ve been using to tick off the enclosures to a black biro because it’s just plain odd to sign stuff in blood red.

***

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I saw Dexy’s play Carrickfergus in 2016 at the Festival Hall at Imagining Ireland, the London celebration of the Easter Rising centenary.

Now in Kilkenny it is reported
On marble stone there as black as ink
With gold and silver I would support her
But I’ll sing no more now til I get a drink
Cause I’m drunk today and I’m seldom sober
A handsome rover from town to town
Ah but I’m sick now my days are numbered
Come all me young men and lay me down
Come all me young men and lay me down

I got to know this song through Van Morrison’s version. During 2016 Robert Elms took Kevin Rowland, lead singer of Dexys, to see Van play at Nell’s in West Kensington. I happen to know this because Robert mentioned it in his excellent, traditional annual music round-up. Which neatly rounds up today’s circle of connection and coincidence.

carrickfergus-castle

Van & Tom

I just found this on the phone I’m about to dump – meant to post it at the time (8th Nov 2015, just home from the gig) but must have lost it in all the excitement…

PAY--Van-Morrison-and-Tom-Jones-performing-at-Prudential-BluesFest-O2-Arena-in-London

Robert Elms introduced Van Morrison and Tom Jones tonight at Blues Fest in the Millennium Dome, saying this is the first time they’ve performed live together – I’ll believe it (though I’m slightly surprised).

Van played first, brought Tom on at the end of his set. Then Tom played with his young band and brought Van back on at the end. They didn’t look rehearsed which was good – small mistakes about when to come in is a small price to pay for some proper connection.

Van’s band was old and experienced; Tom’s was young and spunky. Van’s set was jazzy blues; Tom’s was raw chapel gospelly blues.

Van was in wry humourous mood (contrary to reputation); Tom was nostalgic in a forward-looking, energetic way.

Who in this generation (or recent ones) I wondered will be capable of doing a gig like this in 50 years?

Some highlights included:

Van:

* Making love in the afternoon – where the ‘high’ in ‘highway’ was brought to my attention for the first time, Van really getting into the sex&drugs groove

* Baby please don’t go – with drum beat gun shots at the climax

* No Plan B – Van’s band followed him to a higher place, building to a driving end of set

Tom:

* What is the soul of man – the stripped down blues of Praise & Blame

* I love you baby can’t help myself – beautiful sparse arrangement Tom made full use of

Van & Tom:

What am I living for if not for you & Strange Things – where the pair of them found their together groove

No Whenever God Shines His Light nor Gotta Serve Somebody but the event lived up to its promise and was more than the sum of its parts. Their connection through the Celtic and the Blues made it a match of the heavenly variety.

Van’s set

VM-Essential_retouch

Tom’s set

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Desert Island Discs Day

KIRSTY-YOUNG

I was at a meeting this afternoon chaired by Kirsty Young of Desert Island Discs which set me thinking about the various times I’ve had a stab at my 8 discs, as well as playing the game with the Enfants Terribles. It’s interesting to have musical yardsticks over time to see how consistent or otherwise you are.

Here’s the first one I can find online from October 2006 when Kirsty had just started on DID:

1* Miles Davis – Flamenco Sketches
2 John Coltrane – A Love Supreme part 1 (Acknowledgement)
3 Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me (?)
4 Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up
5 The Clash – White Man in Hammersmith Palais
6 Bill Evans – Love theme from Spartacus
7 Bjork – Hyperballad
8 The Doors – The End
Book: Ulysses – James Joyce
Luxury: Mouth organ (with teach-yourself disc and book)

Here’s another go from later the same day, indicative of how impossible the challenge is for anyone who loves music:

1* Miles Davis – Flamenco Sketches
2 John Coltrane – A Love Supreme part 1
3 Marvin Gaye – Mercy Mercy Me
4 Eric Satie – Gymnopedie
5 Bruce Springsteen – Into the Fire
6 Siouxsie & the Banshees – Icon
7 Sinead O’Connor – On Raglan Road
8 Frank Sinatra – One for my Baby

I recently [17th Jan] redid my list (without reference to past efforts of course) on a trip to Berlin with Enfant Terrible No.1 (his choice is further below):
1 Curtis Mayfield – move on up
2 John Martyn – small hours [new entry]
3 Miles Davis – flamenco sketches
4 John Coltrane – a love supreme, part 1
5 Van – in the afternoon [new entry]
6 The Clash – white man
7 Marvin Gaye – what’s going on [change of track]
8 Frank Sinatra – one for my baby
Book: Ulysses – james joyce
Luxury: pencil & notebooks [change]

Given that’s a 9 year gap, remarkably consistent I’d say, with a healthy bit of change. The appearance of John Martyn reflects my gradual realisation (particularly in the wake of his elevation to The Great Gig in the Sky 7 years ago) that he is the best of the best of singers, a Big Soul. Van’s entry simply corrects a big oversight in the 2006 vintage. I probably haven’t nailed the right track yet. The change of Marvin song just indicates I can’t make up my mind which track from What’s Going On to pick out from a perfect LP which doesn’t really compute as individual tracks in isolation.

Tangentially, here’s another variation – Inheritance Tracks – from November of 2007, broadly aligned with my Desert Island choices:

  • Inherited Track: ‘Everything’s Alright’ from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ OR ‘Soolaimon’ by Neil Diamond
  • Bequest Track: Miles Davis’ ‘Flamenco Sketches’ from ‘Kind of Blue’

Moving on to the next generation, here’s Enfant Terrible No. 2’s first ever go, aged 6:

1 Madness – Embarrassment
2 Bruce Spingsteen – Atlantic City
3 The Cranberries – Ode to my Family
4 Cornershop – Brimful of asha
5 Max Romeo – I Chase the Devil
6 Trumpton – Windy Miller song
7 The Jam – Batman theme
8 AC/DC – It’s a long way to the top
Book: Claris Bean/My Uncle is a Hunkle
Luxury: My house

That’s some list for a 6 year old – clearly getting a proper musical education! I’ll quiz him in the next couple of days and see how radically his list has changed as a 16 year old. [I’ll insert his 2016 list here:]

To see the significant change of teenagehood, here’s Enfant Terrible No. 1’s first ever go from late 2006, aged 11. He wrote it out in long hand in a notebook, taking several months to pin his choice down (typical of him in its careful consideration):
1 U2 – Vertigo
2 Unite Tribe – Life and Death
3 Oxmo Puccino and the Jazzbastards – Perdre et Gagner
4 The Cure – Love Cats
5 * Michael Franti & Spearhead – Sometimes
6 MC Solaar – Solaar Pleure
7 The Raconteurs – Steady as she goes
8 Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit

I pushed him for a swifter, more spontaneous choice this time:
1 James Taylor – fire & rain
2 The Beatles – lucy in the sky with diamonds
3 Carol King – it’s too late
4 Curtis Mayfield – move on up [paternal influence at work]
5 Bob Dylan – hurricane
6 Nirvana – teen spirit
7 The Doors – riders on the storm
8 Led Zep – stairway to heaven
Book: the odyssey – homer
Luxury: my pillow

So only one track persists over the decade – Smells Like Teen Spirit. That’s the spirit of teen for you. BTW I could happily add Kurt singing Where Did You Sleep Last Night? to my grateful eight:

Best of 2014

20,000 Days on Earth

20,000 Days on Earth

Film:

20,000 Days on Earth

Selma
Boyhood
The Theory of Everything

Male Lead:
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything

David Oyelowo – Selma

Nicholas Cage – Joe
Tom Hardy – Locke
Benedict Cumberbtach – The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes – Grand Hotel Budapest

Female Lead:
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything

Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl

Male Support:
Tim Roth – Selma
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Tom Wilkinson – Selma

Female Support:
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Sienna Miller – American Sniper

Director:
Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard – 20,000 Days on Earth

Christopher Nolan – Interstellar
Pawel Pawlikoski – Ida
Paul King – Paddington
Yann Demange- ’71

Writer:
Paul Webb – Selma
Paul King – Paddington
Wes Anderson – Grand Hotel Budapest
Anthony McCarten – The Theory of Everything

Production Design:
Grand Hotel Budapest

Visual FX:
Interstellar
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Michael Franti & dancer

Michael Franti & dancer

Single:
(John Newman – Love Me Again)

Album:
Morning Phase – Beck
Tribute – John Newman

With The Artists – Rhythm & Sound
Liquid Spirit – Gregory Porter
(WomanChild -Cecile McLorin Salvant)

Gig:
Van Morrison on launch night of Nell’s Jazz & Blues Club

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Islington Assembly Hall (with D)

John Newman – Empire Shepherd’s Bush
ABC – Lexicon of Love – Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Peter Gabriel – So – Wembley Arena

Play:
A Taste of Honey – Shelagh Delaney – National Theatre, Lyttleton

Fiesta – adapted & directed by Alex Helfrecht – Trafalgar Studios
Oh What a Lovely War – Joan Littlewood & the Theatre Workshop – Theatre Royal Stratford East (Joan Littlewood centenary – with D)
Fings Ain’t Wot They Used to Be – Frank Norman – Theatre Royal Stratford East

Art Exhibition:
Egon Schiele drawings: The Radical Nude – Courtauld

John Craxton – Fitzwilliam, Cambridge
Richard Hamilton – Tate Modern
Abram Games: designing the 20th Century – Jewish Museum, Camden Town
MALBA – Buenos Aires
Museum der bildenden Kunste – Leipzig (with N)

Book: (that I read this year)
Rabbit at Rest – John Updike

Sport:
Germany crushing Brazil at the World Cup (7-1 semi-final)

Jonny May’s try for England against the All Blacks at Twickenham

Event:
Philae probe from European spacecraft Rosetta landing on a comet

Dearly departed:

Joe Cocker
Jack Bruce
Tommy Ramone

Egon Schiele - The Radical Nude

Egon Schiele – The Radical Nude

Best of 2013

Best of 2012

Best of 2011

Best of 2010

Best of 2009

Best of 2013

[work in progress]

wolf-of-wall-street-jonah-hill-leonardo-dicaprio

Film:
The Wolf of Wall Street
The Way Way Back
Gravity

Male Lead:
Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street

Female Lead:
Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine

Judy Dench – Philomena

Male Support:
Matthew McConaughy – The Wolf of Wall Street

Female Support:
(Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine)
(Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle)

Director:
Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street
Alfonso Cuarón – Gravity

Writer:
Nat Faxon & Jim Rash – The Way Way Back

Single:
Love Me Again – John Newman
Down the Road – C2C
Children Go Where I Send Thee – Nick Lowe
Where Are We Now – David Bowie
Get Lucky – Daft Punk
Nothing’s Changed – Tricky (with Francesca Belmonte)
Hang Me, Oh Hang Me – Oscar Isaac

Album:
Quality Street – Nick Lowe
Cecile McLorin Salvant – WomanChild
Big Inner – Matthew E White
False Idols – Tricky
(Lee Perry presents – Candy McKenzie (1977 reissue))

Gig:
Van Morrison at Ronnie Scott’s

Bruce Springsteen at Wembley Stadium (Darkness on the Edge of Town)
The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park
Dexys – One Day I’m Going To Soar – Duke Of York’s Theatre

Play:
Othello at Olivier Theatre

Art Exhibition:
All that is Solid Melts into Air (Jeremy Deller), Manchester

Sport:
Andy Murray winning Wimbledon

Event:
My birthday party – incorporating The Box

Mick Jagger

Best of 2012

Best of 2011

Best of 2010

Best of 2009

Hooley in Belfast (Day 75)

The One-eyed Man

Writing this one in Terri Hooley’s kitchen with Terri at the table sorting out his Facebook and emails. On the fridge door is a magnet saying “In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king”. The weird thing is that is from 4Talent, a Channel 4 talent development initiative I was in charge of establishing in my first years there. It couldn’t have ended up in a more appropriate place after all these years (it must be a good five years old by now, more probably).

Terri Hooley on laptop

I spent the whole of Day 75 in Belfast with Terri, mainly at his Good Vibrations record store on North Street. I picked up a copy of Teenage Kicks there for a fiver. How could you not? – it was on the wall crying out to me. I also picked up a New Order LP with a Saville cover and not much by way of writing – no title or band name as was the Factory way, just FAC153 on the spine.

Good Vibrations records - singles

Terri took me on a tour of the area past the site of Wizard recording studio where Teenage Kicks among other Good Vibes things was recorded. We also went by the site of the Harp Bar, hub of Punk Belfast. We ended in the John Hewitt for a swift pint or three. I’d been there in the past, originally with Peter Logue, then Channel 4’s Man in Northern Ireland, and later with Kev Largey aka KVLR, a (street) artist who I first met through 4Talent – then known as Ideasfactory Northern Ireland – and one of whose pieces appears in Terri’s book Hooleygan.

the john hewitt pub belfast

We headed back to East Belfast to Van territory and Terri’s place to do an interview which was quite revealing about the kind of person Terri is and therefore some of what fuelled his catalysing of Punk in Belfast, which proved to be an important act in the context of the bleak days of The Troubles. He has many things in common with Tony Wilson (and some key differences) but the political dimension and the urgency of need to provide an alternative were particular to Terri’s situation and enabled him to help deliver the Needed Thing at the right time.

Terri Hooley and Teenage Kicks mural Belfast

As we sat up late partaking of some grapejuice, listening to Stuart Bailie’s show on Radio Ulster (with roots in John Peel), news came on about a failed incendiary device attack in Belfast city centre around the time we were in the Hewitt. Some eejit ended up setting himself on fire. Kingdom of the Blind.

Good Vibrations record store Belfast

Terri Hooley in Good Vibrations Belfast record store

Doing the Box – part 1

I’m having a session with The Box tonight and its 50+ songs as I’ve just made an adjustment to the record-player set-up to increase accessibility (a crafty pull-out shelf) and to usher in a new age of black plastic – the Vinyl Frontier is crossed.

Here’s what I’m listening to and the thoughts prompted/verdicts. Going according to how they sit in the box, so pretty much random order.

turntable record player

Thin Lizzy – Emerald

Started with this B-side after which my friend Eddie named his production company, with which I worked for a couple of very happy years. The song is typical Thin Lizzy, a romantic view of the Hibernian past, epic battles turning green fields red. Phil Lynott was a fascinating character and I love passing his statue off Grafton Street in Dublin, with plectrums attached by fans in homage (I believe it’s been restored recently, though it’s not that old – probably been living the high life and taken plenty of abuse).

Phil Lynott statue Thin Lizzy Dublin

Pet Shop Boys –  It’s a Sin 

Always had a bit of an ambivalent attitude to the PSBs. Couldn’t take the Smash Hits roots seriously. This one has a touch of the A-ha synth sound about it but is none the less catchy for that. Jolly and not very sinful or dark.

Pet-Shop-Boys it's a sin 45

Sinead O’Connor – Nothing Compares 2 U

How on earth can a vinyl single wow and flutter? – this one does! But nothing can obscure a unique, soulful and beautiful voice like this. It’s not flawless but it is perfect. This song is very difficult to separate from its video which sears itself into the memory with its simplicity and beauty.

sinead o'connor nothing compares 2 u video

Irish Heartbeat – Billy Connolly

Bit of an Irish theme so far (not that surprising given the mix of my friends). This is comedian Billy (who used to make me laugh the minute he opened his mouth, from his accent and attitude alone) doing a Van song, with a Scottish twist when he wheels in the band of bagpipers. It’s a live performance and he gets away with a larger than life approach. (But I’ll take the Van version if push comes to shove.)

billy connolly_bigyin

Summer of the Sixties

A piece of the 60s: I've got Don Hunstein's contact sheet for this shoot in my small but perfectly formed photograph collection

Two nice Jewish boys bookend my summer of music, both of the first generation of singer-songwriters, both strongly connected with New York, both out of the Sixties which has been the theme of my live music over the last few weeks. The first was Bob Dylan at the newly revived Feis in Finsbury Park a couple of weeks ago (18.vi.11), the last Neil Diamond at the Millennium Dome last night. In between two unique evenings of singer-songwriters recorded for BBC4 at Porchester Hall for the ‘Songwriters’ Circle’ series.

The last time I wrote about ‘Songwriters’ Circle’ on Simple Pleasures part 4, magic of the internet the fella who makes Boo Hewerdine’s guitars got in touch. At this summer’s Feis I spotted Boo going into the artists’ entrance round the back with his kids and his trusty guitar case, on his way in to play with Eddi Reader. Little wheels spin and spin big wheels turn around and around…

Bob Dylan I have seen from time to time over the last few years and this was his best performance in London for the best part of 15 years (since Hammersmith Odeon). Because he was evidently enjoying himself. ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ was the highlight, him singing in his reinterpretive style (see his memoirs ‘Chronicles’ for something of an explanation), the crowd singing along reverting to the 60s style as recorded (on Blooms Day, 16th June 1965 in NYC, so its anniversary just two days before this performance), everyone enjoying themselves hugely. I was on a (musical) high for a week after the Feis – I think I’ll make this my last time seeing Bob live, go out on a high.

The following evening was another flower of the 60s, Van Morrison, doing the sunset slot with style and statesmanship. The last Feis I went to (somewhere around 1996 by my calculation, called the Fleadh back then) was headlined by the same pairing, though both Van and Bob on the same magical night. It was memorably the night of the day I learned to make frozen fruit dacquiris. It segued into a party back at Watermint Quay over in Clapton (the place not the bluesman), dancing in the basement, pharmacy in the attic space. This time Van didn’t get out of orbit (unlike the transcendency of his Astral Weeks gig at the Albert Hall a couple of years ago) but it was the right music at the right time, perfectly conducted by the Man in the softening glow.

The first of this round of ‘Songwriters’ Circle’ comprised Leon Russell, Nick Lowe and Paul Brady. Leon Russell did his Dr John type thing with great shaggy beard, cowboy hat and shades – classic old school. In his time he’s played with Dylan and The Band as well as The Stones and Clapton (the bluesman). He performed with George Harrison at the Concert for Bangladesh. At this more intimate gathering of musos, Paul Brady was the glue, veteran of countless Irish seisiuns, he knows how to accompany his fellow musicians and get some energetic interaction going. Back in the 60s he was playing traditional Irish with The Johnstons, moving to NYC in 1972 (where Dylan had been drawn to The Clancy Brothers a few years earlier and sucked up some Irish know-how himself). The three of them rounded things off with ‘Mystery  Train’ which I know from Woodstock vets the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, although I first became familiar with it in the Paris Metro thanks to my old pals Stu and Jon who made it our theme tune on the legendary Select Latin trip – Train arriving, sixteen coaches long.

I met Paul Brady and Leon Russell fleetingly after the show at Khans, the injun just round the corner from the venue. Hadn’t been in there for yonks. On the subject of we’ll always have Paris, one of the last times I was there I walked in with a new girlfriend (now wife), bumped into a friend from Paris who offered us her flat in St Germain, we ended up going, our first time away together, so I scored a good few impress-the-new-girlfriend points, it’s a place of good happenings for me.

Back to this summer of love, the following night was even more quintessentially 60s with Donovan, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Roger Cook. Donovan was a bit on the charmless side – back from before ‘Don’t Look Back’ he seems to have struggled awkwardly in the shadow of Dylan and he just doesn’t feel comfortable in himself. Buffy the non-vampire did ‘Little Wheel’ (Desert Island Disc choice of Fay Weldon which is how I came across it) and peaked in her Nam protest song ‘Universal Soldier’. Her songs have been covered by Neil Diamond, as well as Janis Joplin and Joe Cocker. And Donovan (a successful version of Universal Soldier). Wheels within wheels.

Roger Cook went from his 1967 composition ‘Something’s Got a Hold of My Heart’ (which I know through Marc Almond’s later duet with Gene Pitney) to his 1971 ‘I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing’, yup the Coke advert one. 1971 was a very special year of the Sixties. Much of what we think of as epitomising the 60s actually happened in the first couple of years of the 70s –  in short, the 60s culminated in 1971, year of  the wonderous ‘What’s Going On’. That’s my favourite record (with words). And one of my first records was ‘Hot August Night’, also released in 1971 (though that’s not when I got it). I spent hours drawing and colouring to it on the dining room table. It has its 40th anniversary next month and is still Neil Diamond’s best selling record. He played some great choons from it last night including his opener ‘Soolaimon’ (1970) with its herald of African drum beats, ‘I Am I Said’ and ‘Brother Love’s Travelling Salvation Show’. The Brill Building trained songwriter talked a bit about Nam and the assassination of Kennedy, King and ko. He played one of the tunes he wrote for The Monkees, ‘I’m a Believer’. ‘Cherry Cherry’ was a highlight, very 60s sounding. Yet for all his 60s credentials, it was in the early 70s he reached escape velocity and I think of him as a Seventies guy. I contemplated that record cover for hours in the days I only had a couple – I wanted a jean jacket like that, I liked the Jewfro, what was that hand position all about?

A resonant one for me last night was ‘Cracklin’ Rosie’, memorably reinvigorated and given the seal of approval from another great lyricist of a later generation, Shane MacGowan. At one point Neil Diamond also punted his latest record, ‘Dreams’, a selection of covers a la Bowie’s ‘Pin Ups’, including Leon Russell’s “underrated classic” ‘A Song for You’ which he didn’t play live but which idea brings us neatly to the end of last night’s gig, rounding up my summer of music – the Diamond geezer put up a grainy black and white photograph of a 12 year old girl on the screens. She had travelled from Kiev to Rotterdam to New York City, alone it sounded like. She grew up to be his grandmother and he said he dedicated this, like every other performance of his, to her. Not very rock’n’roll but pretty peace and love.

A piece of the 70s: I've still got this LP, my first, in among my large and perfectly formed record collection

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