Welcome to my blog!

UPDATE: Mediafire have suspended my account and locked my downloads. Having endured the tedium of re-uploading everything I had previously hosted on Mega Upload onto Mediafire earlier this year, I can't be arsed re-uploading everything again.

So please don't ask for things to be reuploaded!

I undertake this venture knowing that I don't have the spare time to do it, but feel that these artists NEED TO BE HEARD (please excuse my shouting!). Or is that I think I need to be heard? Or that there are (or have been) some great music blogs that have inspired me to wanna jump on the bandwagon? Probably all of the above??I hope you enjoy the blog. If I turn one person onto these bands that turned me on then it will all have been worth it!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sparks - Hello Young Lovers

I love this band!

Why, you ask? Where do I start?

I'll try to answer that question by asking another question....

Name a band/artist that has been around as long as Sparks that has not sold their soul, stopped evolving, gone through the motions, repeated a winning formula, taken themselves far too seriously, or released at least one crap album?

Neil Young? I love the guy, but there's a few turkeys in his arsenal - Everybody's rocking, Old ways, Fork in the road to name but a few.

David Bowie? You obviously missed the eighties?

Nick Cave? Yeah, I can accept that. But Sparks have been doin' it a decade longer!

Sparks have successfully steered clear any of the aforementioned heinous pop crimes.....errr, so maybe they repeated themselves on  Plagiarism, by covering their own songs, but hey, they managed to bring something new to those songs, and gave the album an ironic title!

While I can't say I like all musical genres the band has explored, they have pulled it off well without coming across as opportunistic, phony, or insincere.

So what genre do we have on this here opus, Hello Young Lovers?

Everyone's favorite (NOT!) - chamber pop! But it's fantabby-hooby-tastic!

Opener Dick Around metamorphoses from chamber pop into a galloping heavy rock tune with crunchy guitars - although that's about the extent of the divergence from the chamber pop theme. That bastion of good taste, the BBC, found it necessary to protect the great unwashed masses by banning the Dick Around single. Imagine the carnage that may have occurred if the song was broadcast during peak hour traffic!

As usual, there are some great song titles and lyrics! The Very Next Fight is about a dude who can't stand other men looking at his woman! Metaphor features the chorus "Chicks dig dig D-I-G dig dig" metaphors. Why couldn't they have told me that 20 years ago - I could have been a contender!

And I hope someone sent Neil Young a copy of (Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country. It succeeds much better at addressing the ridiculousness of George Dubya and his invasion of Iraq than Neil's turgid and earnest lyrics on Living with War.

And what's this - There's No Such Thing As Aliens? Surely the existence of Sparks is proof against that theory?


Sparks - 2006 - Hello Young Lovers

1. Dick Around
2. Perfume
3. The Very Next Fight
4. (Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country
5. Rock, Rock, Rock
6. Metaphor
7. Waterproof
8. Here Kitty
9. There's No Such Thing As Aliens
10. As I Sit To Play The Organ At The Notre Dame Cathedral


Friday, October 21, 2011

Beirut - Letterman

I notice this is my 87th post! This engenders a sense of forboding, since 87 is an unlucky number for Australians!

Sticking to the Australian culture theme, I should mention I've been flat out like a lizard drinking lately, so I haven't had time to produce a decent (or even indecent) post. But I'm hoping to post some new material in the next few days.

Until then, here's another gem from Letterman......

And no -  there's no truth in the rumor that I'm going to rebadge this blog Shoulda Been Letterman, or even Wannabe Letterman!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Garland Jeffreys - Coney Island Winter

Some of my most recent revelatory musical moments have come about from watching performances on The Late Show with David Letterman.

I've featured some of these performances previously on this blog.

Here is another one....had heard the name and seen the face before, but can't remember hearing his music. But this tune is pretty damn fab!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Mad Season - Above

Following up on my Hater post, here is another Seattle "supergroup".

Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready met bassist John Baker Saunders while in rehab, and the two formed a long-term friendship. They put together a side project with Screaming Trees drummer Barrett Martin. McCready later brought in Alice In Chains vocalist Layne Staley, in the hope that being around clean musicians may inspire Staley to clean himself up. The band played a handful of shows in Seattle before entering the studio for two weeks to record their debut (and only) LP, Above.

Above is a surprisingly mellow album given the musical pedigree of the participants. While the band forge their own identity, Staley's vocals inextricably link the album to Alice In Chains. However, with the absence of the gargantuan riffs and unique vocal melodies employed by Alice In Chains, the album is arguably closer to Alice In Chains' acoustic Sap and Jar of Flies EPs.

Opener Wake Up is mellow, psychedelic, and almost jazzy for the first four minutes, before heating up for the guitar solo and winding back down for the last two or so minutes. X-Ray Mind lifts the tempo, momentarily, before their best known song, the mellow and country-ish River of Deceit, subdues the mood.

Artificial Red is a slow blues tune, written on-stage during the bands first performance. Lifeless Dead and I Don't Know Anything are heavier rock numbers, the latter arguably closest stylistically to Alice In Chains.

The folky Long Gone Day is based around upright bass, and features the vocals of Screaming Trees frontman Mark Lanegan. The instrumental November Hotel is the most up-tempo track, giving the band their first real opportunity to flex their musical muscles. All Alone is another atmospheric and mellow piece, featuring Staley's vocals atop a organ drone.

The band played live after recording the album, but commitments to their main bands limited further opportunities to perform and record. The band later reformed with Mark Lanegan handling vocals, metamorphosing into the band Disinformation. However, this band suffered the same commitment problems as Mad Season, and slowly drifted apart.

Saunders and Staley later died from heroin overdoses, in 1999 and 2002, respectively.

Mad Season - 1995 - Above

1. Wake Up
2. X-Ray Mind
3. River of Deceit
4. I'm Above
5. Artificial Red
6. Lifeless Dead
7. I Don't Know Anything
8. Long Gone Day
9. November Hotel
10. All Alone


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Marianne Faithfull - Broken English

My dad was very anti-drugs. I remember when I want a new drug by Huey Lewis and The News came out - my dad was apoplectic! The fact that the "new drug" was love was lost on him - and I didn't bother to point this out so I could take the piss out on him later!

So you can probably imagine what happened when Broken English came out. Marianne Faithfull was held up as an example of the evil of drugs. "Look what drugs did to her looks and her voice!" As a pre-teen I tended to take my parents words as verbatim, so I duly nodded and noted: drugs = bad! But there was something about this woman I couldn't put my finger on. She wasn't like anyone else in my musical sphere at that time.

Fast forward five years to my metal phase, when a hand made sign of Manowar's slogan "DEATH TO FALSE METAL" adorned my wall, and anything that wasn't metal was crap. I'm watching a music show on TV when this short haired woman (uh, a fucking feminist, or worse, a lesbian) with a craggy voice is singing "at the age of thirty seven". I didn't know who in the hell this bolshy woman was, but there was something about her and that song stuck in my mind for many years.

Fast forward fifteen years later. I have been buying at least one LP/CD per week for the last twenty or so years. But on this particular day I've come up empty.   I've almost complete my latest round of Adelaide's music stores, and I can't find one motherfucking CD I want to buy. So this is the end? I've run out of music!! And then I find myself in a second hand store that I rarely frequent out of complete and utter desperation, and there it is - Broken English for $5! Should I buy it? I've wasted plenty of money on crap CDs over the years, so why bother debating the decision. Just buy it!

So I buy it, and it promptly sits in my alphabetically/chronologically ordered CD collection for several months before I pluck up the courage to play it.....and am blown away. Not quite a life changing experience, but a very pleasant surprise.

Broken English (the song) was eerily similar to how I remember it twenty years earlier: craggy voice singing over a swamp of synth pop. But I like it a hell of a lot more now, I'm thinking. In fact, it's fantastic.

Witches song comes on next. This reminds me of something else I like...eventually I realize it sounds like Second Nature by Rush, which was released years afterwards (on 1987's Hold Your Fire). Funnily enough, I had the same feeling a few years earlier when first hearing Future Generation by The Auteurs - the bastard's ripped off Rush! But that's another story I might get to in another post......

Then it's Brain Drain - smoldering blues! Gotta love it - 3 out of 3. This album's going well! Guilt is cod-funk - it's just OK. So we're not talking perfect album here, but try think of  a perfect album? There ain't one.

And then The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan comes on. Great synth sounds. And there's something familiar about this, but I can't put my finger on it until....."at the age of thirty seven". OMFG, it's this song! And it's spine tinglingly good. Man, I love this album! So it was destiny for me to buy this CD - that's why I found myself in that urine-stenched decrepit second hand store!! Fast forward another ten years, it still sends shivers down my spine.

Two songs later is Working Class Hero. Sounds great. Sparse, atmospheric, moving. And great lyrics! I later realize it's a John Lennon song. I am not, have never, and will never be a Beatles fan, and firmly believe that nearly every Beatles cover is better than the original - and this song just confirms that feeling! In spades. I feel the same way about Prince. But whenever anyone says the same about Dylan I castigate them - sacrilegious bastards! 

The album concludes with Why'd Ya Do It? Did she just sing what I thought she sung? A great punk influenced bile spew to a great reggae soundtrack, with Bowie influenced lead guitar. Fantastic!!

A great album. And even better when you become aware of her history, of which I was only vaguely aware at the time I first heard the album. And my estimation of her was only when she later recorded with probably my two favorite artists, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey!

Marianne Faithfull - 1979 - Broken English

1. Broken English
2. Witches' Song
3. Brain Drain
4. Guilt
5. The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
6. What's The Hurry
7. Working Class Hero
8. Why'd Ya Do It?


Monday, October 3, 2011

Green River - Demos

Regular readers here will know that I just diiiiiiiiiiig grunge.

And no one did it better than arguably the original grunge band, Green River.

Here we have the earliest demo recordings from Green River, which represent the earliest grunge recordings available to us mere mortals.

These demos are pretty raw and formative, but show obvious signs of the greatness that was to emerge later.

There are a number of versions of these demos available on bootlegs and the interweb. As far as I can tell, all versions are incomplete and have incorrect track listings. And while I think I've determined the most accurate track listing to date, I make no claims to have it completely correct (see below).

I've collected the tracks from two sources: CD 2 of the Pearl Jam Hallucinogenic Recipes bootleg, and from Bootlegs from Bucklberry. However, the most useful source of correct track information is the fantastic Lamestain site, which I strongly recommend to fellow grunge tragics. The Lamestain post features (defunct) links to the demo tracks, comments from readers clarifying the track names, and some further comments from Green River drummer Alex Vincent in response to a tape of the demos provided to him by Lamestain. Most of the information below is borrowed (stolen?) from this site, so head over there if you want to hear more.

The first eight tracks of these demos appear to have been recorded in the summer of 1984, when the band was a four piece (Mark Arm, Steve Turner, Jeff Ament and Alex Vincent) prior to the arrival of Stone Gossard. The tracks 33 RPM and Leech were released as a single on translucent green vinyl  . The latter was later covered by The Melvins. Or, as Mark Arm humorously described from the stage at the 2008 Green River reformation "We wrote this song in 1984, it was just a demo tape we passed along. The Melvins later, in Led Zeppelin-like fashion, recorded the song and credited it to themselves -- making us the Willie Dixon of grunge." 

New God and Tunnel of Love later appeared on the debut LP Come On Down.

Baby Help Me Forget later appeared in a very similar form on the B-side of Mudhoney's 1999 single This Gift. 

A significantly revamped version of 10,000 Things later appeared on the 1986 compilation Deep Six, as previously posted on this blog.

Against the Grain is a mid-tempo track similar in feel to most of the tracks on the Come On Down LP. It is also the track whose title I am least sure of, owing to the fact that is listed as Take Me on Youtube! However, I'm sticking to the title provided on Lamestain given that Alex Vincent commented that an additional track that was not on the tape provided to him by Lamestain, Take Me, was recorded for the 1984 demo. And since Against the Grain is on Lamestain, I assume it was on this tape.

The remaining 1984 track, Personality Meltdown,   featuring Steve Turner on vocals, is unfortunately incomplete. It is a punk rocker that may date back to the one of the bands predecessors. Interesting, but non-essential!

Bazaar apparently dates from 1985. Note this is not the version that appeared on the 1999 compilation Another Pyrrhic Victory. This track again is again similar in feel to most of the tracks on the Come On Down LP.

Together We'll Never apparently dates from 1986, and is most likely a high generation copy of the 1986 single (again on translucent green vinyl!) released on the Tasque Force label, rather than a demo. This version is not quite as good as the version that appeared on the final (posthumous) Green River album Rehab Doll, but it's still pretty damn good!

Green River - Demos

01 - 33 RPM
02 - New God
03 - Tunnel of Love
04 - Leech
05 - Against the Grain (possibly Take Me?)
06 - Baby Help Me Forget
07 - 10,000 Things
08 - Personality Meltdown
09 - Bazaar
10 - Together We'll Never