Tchaikovsky – Arabian Dance (Coffee) (1892)

June 11, 2016 Leave a comment

I’ve been working my way through a 70 CD box-set of classical music featuring some of the finest work of conductor Fritz Reiner. I’ve loaded up a few of my favourites onto my iPod and, happily, while strolling across our local water-meadow to enjoy a pint at the local pub, this came on.  With Russia due to play England in Euro 2016 in a couple of hours, what better way to prepare than to consider this sublime piece from one of that country’s greatest composers.

First premiered in 1892, “Arabian Dance (C0ffee)” is taken from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. It turns out that Pyotr and I have a fair amount in common – like me he was  educated for a career as a civil servant and, like me, his father was an engineer …. I am hoping that the similarities end there as he died at the age of 53 and I reach that milestone in 8 months time … gulp.

No sign of the Reiner version on Youtube but this is more than good enough!

 

John Cale – Dying On The Vine (1985)

June 11, 2016 Leave a comment

With Euro 2016 underway (a “soccer” tournament for both of my non-European followers!), I’m hoping to post a song or two that relate in some way to some of the countries playing each day (I suspect this good intention might fizzle out quite quickly ..)

So what better way to kick-off this project than with one of the greatest songs by one of the greatest songwriters from Wales (who are playing Slovakia later). I first heard this song on the compilation “10% File Under Burroughs” ( a series of songs with some relation to William Burroughs). The version on there is a live recording featuring Cale playing alone at the piano. It is completely different to the original that appeared on Cale’s “Artificial Intelligence” LP released in 1985. It turns out that it was taken from the “Fragments of the Rainy Season” live LP that Cale released in 1992 …

Deeply reflective and moving, this might be the best song John Cale has ever written …

I’ve been chasing ghosts and I don’t like it
I wish someone would show me where to draw the line
I’d lay down my sword if you would take it
And tell everyone back home I’m doing fine

Five versions(!) – a superb live solo version from the BBC; the live LP version; the original from the LP and then two live cuts: one from the Old Grey Whistle Test and one from Later With Jools Holland!

 

 

 

 

Ernie K-Doe – Mother-In-Law (1961)

June 5, 2016 Leave a comment

Written by the late Allen Toussaint and released as a single on the wonderful Minit Records in 1961, Mother-In-Law is not (spoiler alert) a song that is overly complimentary about the woman in question. A few lines to illustrate this:

The worst person I know ….

Satan should be her name …

But if she would leave that would be the solution …

A jolly tune though!

Eddie Curtis – The Louisville Lip (1971)

June 4, 2016 Leave a comment

A very sad day indeed for the world.

This song would have been worth posting on any day of any year but, today, it just has to be essential. A great song, which I first heard when I bought the superb compilation “Hits And Misses: Muhammed Ali And The Ultimate Sound Of Fistfighting” a few years ago (released on the wonderful Trikont label, details here)

I remember the “Thrilla in Manila” quite well because I was a young boy living in Hong Kong in 1975 in the same time zone as the Philippines. My mum was very excited and followed it avidly!

I’ve previously posted an Ali tribute here (using the medium of reggae) but Eddie Curtis’ “Louisville Lip” is a worthy addition to the bestmusicofalime.

The Grubby Mitts – To A Friend’s House (2011)

June 2, 2016 Leave a comment

One of my great pleasures in life is receiving my monthly copy of The Wire Magazine. It’s a bit esoteric and, to be frank, a lot of the “experimental” music they cover is unmitigated tosh.

Nonetheless, three or four times a year, the magazine comes with a free CD and the “Wire Tapper” series now stretches past 40 volumes …. I do try and listen to these all the way through but they can be a bit of an endurance test. Occasionally, however, you hear something that makes you pause and really sit up. This track is one such example.

To A Friend’s House” by The Grubby Mitts appeared on Wire Tapper 37 early in 2015. While this was the first official CD release of the track, it actually dates back on vinyl to 2011. Whatever its provenance, this is an intriguing and beguiling track – for me, a blend of classic English folk with the lo-fi, indie-pop nous of the bands on New Zealand’s peerless Flying Nun Records label. It turns out that The Grubby Mitts are from Bedford in the UK; only 20 miles from where I type this missive … guys, can I have a beer for plugging you?

A bit of accordion, a spot of bass and some multi-layered spoken vocals adds up to considerably more than the sum of its parts.

Give it a go!

 

Grauzone – Film 2 (1981)

June 1, 2016 Leave a comment

This has been a great day for Switzerland with the opening of the world’s longest and deepest rail tunnel – well done guys! (Details, here)

Until this moment, I think most right-thinking people would have regarded Switzerland’s finest achievement to date as being this track, “Film 2” by the short-lived but stupendous post punk band Grauzone. Others, of course, might debate this point and argue that hand crafted timepieces, cuckoo clocks, cheese with holes in it and/or, err, the Swiss Roll were superior. However, they would simply be wrong and, in the process, look faintly foolish.

Formed in Berne in 1980, Grauzone managed one LP and a handful of singles before disbanding two years later. Film 2 was the opening track on their only LP and is a pounding, relentless, bludgeoning instrumental. Play loud!

Mogwai – Helps Both Ways (Madden Version) (1999)

May 31, 2016 Leave a comment

Tonight, I am mostly feeling like a bit of a tart. For the first time (in a crude attempt to go viral), I have posted in response to a “request”. Now to be fair, the request is from an old chum but, still, I feel a bit dirty.

Specifically, said chum was observing that there was no Mogwai on this blog.

This I now put right …

However, inevitably, I have to be awkward …

So, here is Mogwai with their classic “Helps Both Ways” …. but this time with the original sample featuring John Madden’s NFL commentary that was removed from the Come On Die Young LP for copyright reasons. This is the definitive version!

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