Wednesday, June 28, 2006

King Of The New York Streets

In July 1989 Dion DiMucci was on tour in the UK and recorded an interview and session with Roger Scott for BBC Radio One. It was broadcast in his 'Saturday Sequence' programme on 30th September, barely a month before Roger died of cancer. Dion clearly knew his host was dying, which makes some of the exchanges between them especially poignant.

Dion was then in his (by my reckoning) 7th incarnation as a musician.

Having been a teen hero with The Belmonts (A Teenager In Love, I Wonder Why), he next went solo and had hits with Runaround Sue, Drip Drop and The Wanderer (among others).

Next he signed to CBS and cut a couple of ahead-of-their-time white blues/soul albums.

Then he turned into a semi-folkie singer/songwriter balladeer and during the late 60s and early 70s he produced a series of great acoustic-based albums.

Then he went kinda AOR, making an album with Phil Spector and a couple of others - one of which (Return Of The Wanderer) is absolutely excellent.

Next Dion found serious religion and dropped out of view for a while, recording a bunch of Gospel albums that I'm afraid I haven't heard and can't comment on.

In the mid-1980s he was brought over to the UK by Dave Edmunds to make his 'comeback' album 'Yo Dion' and for a while he was fairly high profile again, but since then he's been quietly making excellent albums. In fact, with the exception of the Gospel albums (which, as I say, I haven't heard), I don't think there's a duff album in his whole recorded output. Start anywhere - but if you start with the Spector album I would advise skipping the first track. It's slightly overindulgent.

DION DIMUCCI - Live for BBC Radio One, Autumn 1989.

01 - Intro
02 - Written On The Subway Wall
03 - I've Got To Get To You
04 - Chat 1
05 - The Wanderer
06 - End of pt 1
07 - Intro to pt 2
08 - King Of The New York Streets
09 - Chat 2
10 - Drip Drop
11 - Chat 3
12 - I Wonder Why
13 - End of pt 2
14 - Intro to pt 3
15 - And The Night Stood Stiill
16 - Ruby Baby
17 - Runaround Sue
18 - Outro

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Things We Do For Cash

Sandy Denny.

Folk-rock goddess, voice of an angel, best female songwriter the UK has ever produced, bla bla bla. We all know she was fab, we all know she died too young. We were all in love with her when we were adolescents (well I was anyway). But some time between 'North Sea Gasman' and 'Sandy' she clearly needed to earn some *dosh* and did a bit of session work.

We all know 'Battle Of Evermore', and many of us also know the two songs from 'Pass Of Arms' - but how many of us have heard of 'Swedish Fly Girls'?

Now I've never seen the film and I may be doing it a disservice, but a Swedish film from 1972 about the antics of a group of young air hostesses? Sounds decidedly dodgy.

Most of the music was written by Manfred Mann, and most of the tracks on the album are dire. But there are four tracks sung by Sandy Denny that are kinda OK in a rather naff pop way.

And, for completists, I've also included the poem 'Strange Meeting' read by Christopher Logue that was on the original 7" single of the Pass Of Arms soundtrack. I haven't included Sandys tracks because they are available on CDs.

SWEDISH FLY GIRLS - four tracks featuring Sandy Denny.

1) Water Mother
2) What Will I Do With Tomorrow
3) I Need You
4) Are The Judges Sane?

Friday, June 23, 2006

Sometimes I feel I've Got To Slow My Head Down

Apparently Lamb released three albums but this is the only one I've ever seen. They were an American duo (the extraordinary voice of Barbara Mauritz and the guitar & other instruments of her partner Bob Swanson) that were managed by Bill Graham for a while and appeared on the Last Days At The Fillmore box set.

Strange, unique and quite mesmerising - the only things that I can think of to compare it to, off the top of my head, is Julie Tippetts 'Sunset Glow' or the early 70's Spirogyra (not the jazz-rock bland). Jerry Garcia appears uncredited, apparently - you can clearly hear what sounds like his pedal steel on 'Reach High'.

See for further info.

LAMB - Cross Between

01 - Flying
02 - Now's Not The Time
03 - Cross Between
04 - Sleepwalkers
05 - Reach High
06 - Ku
07 - While Waiting
08 - Flotation
09 - Milo And The Travellers

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's a new day, it's a dawning day

Right, now what to say about Home? I bought this album because a friend of mine (Andy Georgiou) went on and on about how brilliant it was. And, in part, he was right - but it's an inconsistent album musically, in three parts. The opening track (Dreamer) promises an album of hard electric rock with big harmonies, but then the rest of side 1 is mainly acoustic ballads. Mick Cook told me that 'Rise Up' was nearly used to advertise Cornfakes. Side 2 is another fettle of kish - it's always seemed to me to be a self-contained suite of atmospheric spacey progrock gorgeousness complete with bowed bass guitar. The first album 'Pause For A Hoarse Horse' is a duff country-rock affair, the third album 'The Alchemist' was the band's favourite but didn't do anything for me - I always though of it as the audio version of the inside cover of Led Zep IV. Laurie Wisefield went on to join Wishbone Ash, Cliff Williams joined AC/DC, Mick Stubbs (I think) died, and Mick Cook joined the Groundhogs and then cleaned my mum's windows.

HOME - Home

01 - Dreamer
02 - Knave
03 - Fancy Lady Hollywood Child
04 - Rise Up
05 - Dear Lord
06 - Baby Friend Of Mine
07 - Western Front
08 - Lady Of The Birds

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Stay Where You Are, Little Man

Ahh - Miracle Legion. For a while back there it seemed as if they would take over the world...

The first mini-album came out in 1984 and was compared to REM, who'd just released Reckoning. The comparisons were partly valid but there were big differences as well. I heard John Peel play a couple of tracks so I bought it and waited for the uproar... nothing.


Miracle Legion - The Backyard (1984)

01 - The Backyard
02 - Butterflies
03 - Closer To The Wall
04 - Just Say Hello
05 - The Heart Is Attached
06 - Steven Are You There

So it was the mid-1980s and I was between bands and between jobs, and I found myself working as sound engineer in the Sir George Robey pub in Finsbury Park. I worked with loads of bands, some great, some rotten, but one of the best nights there was when Miracle Legion played. I recorded the gig for myself but got quite friendly with their roadie and swapped my live recording for a copy of their current demo tape. It was great (still is) and I played it non-stop - hence the deterioration in sound quality. Even so, it's fab.

Miracle Legion - Demos 1986

01 - Mr Mingo
02 - Ray
03 - And Then
04 - Heaven
05 - Crooked Path
06 - Paradise
07 - All For The Best
08 - Will You Wait
09 - Truly
10 - Country Boy
11 - Academy Fight Song
12 - Please

So first they headlined, and they went down so well that they came back and did their farewell gig of that tour as a last-minute support for Climax Blues Band. Now Climax were one of the *least* pleasant acts I worked with, and on this night they refused to let ML use any of their backline gear and also refused to move any of it to make room for them on the stage. So Miracle Legion set up on the floor in front of the stage (hence Mark Mulcahy's comment about 'welcome to the floor show') and just blew everybody apart. Most of the audience left after the support and then Climax did their dull thing to the remainder.

This isn't even a soundboard recording, I had my little walkman recorder gaffa'd to the wall - so the quality isn't great.

Miracle Legion - Live at the Robey

01 - Little Man
02 - Just Say Hello
03 - The Heart Is Attached
04 - All For The Best
05 - Paradise
06 - Mr Mingo
07 - Until She Talks
08 - Truly Truly Truly
09 - Butterflies
10 - The Storyteller
11 - Ray
12 - The Backyard
13 - Encores (Country Boy & Closer To The Wall)

Finally they signed to Rough Trade and the first album proper came out in 1987 - better quality studio versions of many of the tracks from the demo tape.

Unfortunately they'd kinda lost some of their impetus by then and in my opinion (though critics disagree) the follow-up - Glad - was a bit of a disappointment. By 'Me And Mr Ray' they were down to a duo (some great songs there though) and then they broke up. Mark Mulcahy went on to produce some realy nice & critically acclaimed solo albums, but for me they're not quite as good - or as fresh - as this early ML stuff. I guess we all have to grow up.

Miracle Legion - Surprise Surprise Surprise

01 - Mr Mingo
02 - All For The Best
03 - Paradise
04 - Truly
05 - Storyteller
06 - Country Boy
07 - Crooked Path
08 - Everyone In Heaven
09 - Wonderment
10 - Little Man

Monday, June 19, 2006

When I Was A Freeport And You Were A Folk Supergroup


A 'folk supergroup' comprising Pete Coe, Chris Coe, Nic Jones and Tony Rose that only produced this one album. To my mind it is one half of a two-album set and I always think of it alongside the New Victory Band's 'One More Dance And Then' - but that album is available on CD and so I've only included a couple of tracks from it as a taster - go buy the original.

Groovy cover man 01 - The Tailor And The Tea Chest 02 - Astleys Ride & Up And Away 03 - Rose Of Allendale 04 - Hind Horn 05 - Herrings Head & Salmon Tails Up The Water 06 - Little Fishes 07 - Ladies, Don't Go Thieving 08 - Geordie 09 - Dragoon And The Lady & Soldier Soldier 10 - Adam Was A Poacher 11 - Hares On The Mountain 12 - Hunt The Hare 13 - Herper's Frolic + Bonny Kate (New Victory Band) 14 - Mamie May (New Victory Band)

Laura Nyro

These albums are available from Amazon as extremely limited and extremely expensive japanese imports - and as far as I know Nested and Mother's Spiritual were never actually released on CD so even those may be private rips from vinyl. So here are rips from my vinyl copies of those two albums, plus the complete double CD of the live 'Seasons Of Lights' CD which was available as a proper Japanese import but a) was *very* expensive and b) isn't any longer. The cut-down single CD version isn't available either. Not the best places to start if you're not a Nyro fan, but well worth having if you are.

Laura Nyro - NESTED (1978)

Side One 1. Mr. Blue (The Song of Communications) 2. Rhythm and Blues 3. My Innocence 4. Crazy Love 5. American Dreamer Side Two 1. Springblown 2. The Sweet Sky 3. Light 4. Child in a Universe 5. The Nest

Laura Nyro - Seasons Of Lights (1977)

01. Money 02. Sweet Lovin’ Baby 03. And When I Die 04. Morning News 05. Upstairs by a Chinese Lamp 06. I Am the Blues 07. When I Was a Freeport and You Were the Main Drag 08. Captain St. Lucifer 09. Smile 10. Mars 11. Sweet Blindness 12. The Cat Song 13. Emmie 14. The Confession 15. Timer 16. Midnite Blue

Laura Nyro - MOTHER'S SPIRITUAL (1984)

Side One 1. To A Child 2. The Right To Vote 3. A Wilderness 4. Melody In The Sky 5. Late For Love 6. A Free Thinker 7. Man In The Moon Side Two 1. Talk To A Green Tree 2. Trees Of The Ages 3. The Brighter Song 4. Roadnotes 5. Sophia 6. Mother's Spiritual 7. Refrain

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Jeka Jose Da Da Oh

Clancy - along with Byzantium, Caravan and Man probably the band that I saw live more than any other. In some ways they were a bit sub-AWB but they were great live - and any band that contains an ex-member of Help Yourself can't be all bad.

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Smiling Revolution

Ahh - the Global Village Trucking Company - or 'the Globs' as we knew them then.

Worthy successors to Brinsley Schwartz, I always thought.

UPDATE MAY 2008 - new rips, better quality with artwork here

Global Village Trucking Company - Live At Dingwalls

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Hold Me For Ever And Ever

Aerial FX - Watching The Dance This is an extraordinary album, quite unlike almost anything else I have in my collection. I really don't know anything about it, either - there's nothing on the Web about these guys that I can find. Electro-synth-pop but quite dark and moody as well. Great. A1 Out Of The Window A2 Who Is Down There A3 Hold Me A4 5.15 A5 Instant Feeling B1 Servitors B2 Accident B3 Where Is Tomorrow

Monday, June 05, 2006

Take A Man Who Only Knows The Good Time Scene


Two - in my opinion - excellent albums that have never been released on CD to my knowledge. Can't think why - unless Dave Stewart is ashamed of them?

UPDATE (March 2008) - Hux Records are releasing these on CD soon, so the downloads have gone.

In 1976 I was playing bass guitar in a folk-rock group called Crannog that had a Monday night residency in The Queens in Crouch End. It was a very popular gig, and every week the pub was packed (I was even asked for my autograph once as I wandered round Crouch End between Harum Records and John Beeby's Music Place on a Saturday afternoon). The leader of the band, Kevin McCabe, was an old friend of Barry Dransfield, and Bazza used often to get up and play with us. Great stuff, and the heaving throng loved it as well. We'd stay behind in the pub after closing time for several hours jamming.

After a while I decided to leave the band, and Bazza suggested Brian Harrison as my replacement. Brian was the bass player in the Dransfield band, who had just come off the road after touring support to Tom Paxton (!) to promote their magnificent 'Fiddlers Dream' album, and he got the job. I formed my own band (Brahms & Liszt) but still went to see Crannog most Monday nights and often got up to play with them.

Previously, Brian had been in a band called Longdancer with Dave Stewart and Steve Sproxton, both of whom also came to The Queens from time to time. I duly sought out and bought their albums.

The first Longdancer album was mostly acoustic, and the songwriting was shared between the four members. Dave wrote a couple of rather twee hippy ditties, Brian wrote some sombre ballads, Sprocker wrote the (for me) standout tracks, and Kai Olsson wrote the remainder.

LONGDANCER - If It Were So Simple

1. Silent Emotions 2. Hold Up The World 3. Don't Turn Out The Lights 4. Trivialities 5. Time To Pay 6. Too Much Too Soon 7. Take A Man 8. Crying Out Loud 9. Ballad To Hillary 10. If It Was So Simple

Apparently there was some friction between Dave and Kai, with the latter wanting to stay acoustic and DS wanting to go electric. Either way, KO left before the 2nd album and was replaced by a full-time bass player (Matt Irving) and drummer (Charlie Smith). Both of these were more-than-competent musicians (and I love the boxy drum sound) but not so hot on the songwriting stakes and their contributions (Rosemary and Sandy's Song, respectively) are by far the weakest tracks on the album. By contrast, Dave Stewart's songwriting had improved no end and he's taken over from Sprocker as the star of this album - particularly 'Cold Love'. If you can ignore the fact that 'Sweet Leaves', written with his then-wife Pam (who I rather liked) is a love song to dope, it's actually a rather lovely song. The recorders date it a bit though...

The production was by Del Newman (presumably responsible for that great drum sound - check out Cold Love again), who also played synth (VCS3?) and contributes the perfect ending to that same track.

LONGDANCER - Trailer For A Good Life

1. Trailer 2. Take A Song 3. Sandy’s Song 4. Rosemary 5. Country Song 6. Sweet Leaves 7. Mother Nature 8. The Ship 9. Cold Love 10. Hard Road

Dave went on to form The Catch, The Tourists, and then The Eurythmics and fame. Steve didn't do anything musically that I'm aware of. Brian played with Crannog for a while and then went off to the States to work for Dave. Kai went solo. Matt played with Screaming Lord Sutch along with his brother Jaques 'Fifi' Irving (a damn fine drummer), Charlie joined Crannog and then did some local pub gigs with me and Roddy Rogers. Finito.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Something You Said

OK. here's the 2nd and 3rd albums.

Seasons Changing

01 - What A Coincidence 02 - My Season's Changing With The Sun 03 - Show Me The Way 04 - I'll Always Be Your Friend 05 - October Andy 06 - Something You Said - A Trilogy

Live And Studio

01 - I'll Just Take My Time 02 - Surely Peace Will Come To Those Who Try 03 - If You Wanna Be My Girl 04 - Oh Darling 05 - Move With My Time 06 - Flashing Silver Hope (live at the Nightingale) 07 - Cowboy Song (live at Borehamwood) 08 - Feel It (live at the Harlow Community Centre)

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Byzantium Were Unable To Appear Owing To A Power Cut

OK - here goes. I've been really impressed by some of the old vinyl that has been ripped and posted on blogs around here so I've decided to add some of my own. To the best of my knowledge, none of this stuff is commercially available, so I don't think I'm breaking any laws. If the record companies (is that still what they're called?) decide to reissue any of this stuff it'd be a different matter - but frankly I can't see it.

I'll add stuff to this blog as and when I get time, but for now here are the two officially released Byzantium albums from 72/73, plus the unreleased 3rd album. Chaz Jankel (gtr) went on to join the Blockheads, Robin Lamble (bass) played with Al Stewart (BTW he was the brother of Fairport's original drummer Martin), Mick Barakan changed his name to Shane Fontayne, Jamie Rubinstein and Stevie Corduner - no idea what happened to them.

Unfortunately I only have the 3rd album on an old cassette that Steve Burgess (of Dark Star fame) made for me so it's a bit muddy and hissy (Steve was a great hater of dolby NR) but better than nothing.

01 - What Is Happening
02 - I Am A Stranger To My Life
03 - Come Fair One
04 - Baby I Can Hear You Calling Me
05 - Trade Wind
06 - Into The Country
07 - Lady Friend
08 - Why Or Maybe It's Because

No password (why bother?).

BTW the title of this post refers to the fact that Byzantium were on the bill of the gig that was recorded and released as Greasy Truckers Party, with Man, Hawkwind and Brinsley Schwartz. If there hadn't been a pwer cut and they had appeared, and been on the album, their career might have gone a different way - they were a cracking live band as I remember (and I saw them *lots* of times).