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Archive for June, 2012

The Clash – White Man In Hammersmith Palais/The Prisoner (1978)

June 26, 2012 1 comment

Quite simply one of the best A and B side combinations in history …

There have been some great “double A-sides” such as the Strawberry Field Forever/Penny Lane release by The Beatles and Going Underground/Dreams of Children by The Jam (insert your personal favourites in the comment box below!)

What sets this apart is that “The Prisoner” was meant to be a definite B-side but turns out for significant numbers of Clash fans to be their favourite track of all time by the band.

The lyrics on both sides of the single are top drawer. The opening stanza on “White Man” sets the scene ..

Midnight to six man

For the first time from Jamaica

Dillinger and Leroy Smart

Delroy Wilson, your cool operator

The killer couplet towards the end observes that:

If Adolf Hitler flew in today

They’d send a limousine anyway

Quite.

In “The Prisoner”, more namechecks for the Jamaican sound systems …

Johnny Too Bad meets Johnny B. Goode in the Charing Cross Road

The only thing that happened today is the West End jungle code

All the Germans and all the French jam themselves down the tube

And re-enact the second world war while the rude boys get rude!

The A-side then the B-side. Pop, rock, punk, reggae perfection.

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Bob Marley and The Wailers – Redemption Song (1980)

June 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Sometimes there are “all time classics” that morph into “hoary old chestnuts” – and, though it hurts me to say this, Teenage Kicks by The Undertones is an example of a record that has been bludgeoned to death by over exposure.

Then there are records which, no matter how may times you play them, never grow old. The whole of “Closer” by Joy Division, “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder, “This Old Heart of Mine” by the Isley Brothers, “Lost in Music” by Chic, “Computer Love” by Kraftwerk …. I could go on but you get the picture.

Redemption Song is one of the latter.

Emancipate youself from mental slavery

Almost the only record I know that seems to strike the deepest of chords whether you be from Jamaica, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand, Japan or anywhere else on earth.

Three versions ….the acoustic solo version by Bob Marley is the killer. The “whole band” version pales by comparison but then the inspiration is revived by a great Youtube montage of amateur cover versions from around the world.

Bunny Wailer – Fighting Against Convictions (1976)

June 25, 2012 1 comment

Bunny Wailer, along with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, was one of the founder members of The Wailers in the 1960s.

As part of the real “crucial 3” (Pete Wylie, Ian McCulloch and Julian Cope take note ….), he contributed to some of the foundation statements of reggae.

But by 1973, Bunny Wailer, Peter Tosh and Bob Marley were starting to carve out their own paths.

This track is from Bunny Wailer’s debut solo LP “Blackheart Man”, released on Island Records in 1976.

Quite simply, one of the greatest records ever made; utterly timeless.

Occasionally known as “Battering Down Sentence” this track stands comparison with any of the seminal records released during the 1970s by Bob Marley.

Just the track – it’s all you need

The Go-Betweens – Part Company (1984)

June 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Yet another rain break in the cricket as the English “summer” struggles to snap into life – 17 degrees and falling ….

Still, the continuing deluge offers a chance to post this work of Australian genius.

As my small and exclusive band of followers will know, I’ve posted a pretty diverse range of Australian tracks over the months, many of which appear to be more popular in the northern hemisphere than “down under”; though, frankly, that is not always saying something …. (For example, check here for The Saints, here for AC/DC, here for Cosmic Psychos, here for Screaming Tribesmen, here for Radio Birdman, here for Nick Cave and here for, er, Rolf Harris ….)

The Go-Betweens have always been one of my favourite bands and this is one of their very best tracks. Released as a single in 1984 and taken from the superb “Spring Hill Fair” LP of the same year.  The song also appeared on the classic NME cassette “Department of Enjoyment” … details available from my “other blog” here.

Come and have a look, beside me

A fine line of tears, part company.

That’s her handwriting, that’s the way she writes

From the first letter I got, to this her bill of rights, part company.

And what will I miss? Her cruelty, her unfaithfulness

Her fun, her love, her kiss, part company.

Three versions, the original LP version, then a sketchy live version from 1988 and then a rough but endearing demo.

Jack Kittel – Psycho (1973)

June 10, 2012 Leave a comment

This is a very unusual and striking record. Country music has never been quite so direct before or since …..

I first heard this song when it was covered by Elvis Costello and released as an extra track on the CD reissue of his “Almost Blue” LP.

The song was actually written by Leon Payne around 1960 and was first recorded and released by Eddie Noack in 1968. However, the definitive version is this one, recorded by Jack Kittel in 1973.

Not quite a “murder ballad” in the traditional sense; more like a serial killer’s confession as Jack calmly describes a series of murders from the perspective of someone who doesn’t quite know what they are doing. This extract gives a feel for the mood of the song …

Oh you recall that little girl mama

I believe her name was Betty Clark

Oh don’t tell me that she’s dead mama

‘Cause I just saw her in the park

We were sitting on a bench mama

Thinking of a game to play

Seems I was holding a wrench mama

Then my mind just walked away

Just the track …

The Ukrainians – Batyar (Bigmouth Strikes Again) (1992)

June 8, 2012 Leave a comment

Okay, just has to be one of the greatest of all “double headers” tonight ….

Having already marked the start of the European 2012 Football Championships (jointly hosted by Poland and The Ukraine) with the “Polish entry” – Gorecki’s Symphony No.3 “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs” (see here) …. I feel honour bound to celebrate the “best of the Ukraine” ….

As such, what could be finer than “The Ukrainians” themselves and their definitive take on The Smiths’ “Bigmouth Strikes Again”……?

Taken from the wonderful EP “Pizni iz the Smiths”  (which also features “The Queen is Dead”, “Meat is Murder” and “What Difference Does It Make?”), it must be time to dance ….

Henryk Górecki – Symphony No. 3 (1976)

June 8, 2012 1 comment

The start of the European Football Championships (jointly hosted by Poland and Ukraine) provides me with a weak excuse to add one of my favourite Polish compositions to the blog ….

This is a piece of immense power; a simple harmonic motif that builds and builds …. the double basses never relent. It starts very slowly but stick with it …..

Wikipedia provides a great entry for those wanting to dig deeper (here). However, what is clear is that the motivation for the piece remains opaque and a plausible case can be made for a personal, matrimonial muse or a much more political, Holocaust inspired, piece. Remember, this was composed in the pre Solidarność days before the eventual raising of the “Iron Curtain” – hence, I suggest you make of it what you will.

The three movements are each utterly perfect and you can’t beat listening to each, properly, in turn. The way the first the movement builds is a classic piece of minimalism but, for me, the third movement is the one where genius is attained ……

 

 

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