Posts Tagged ‘Folk’

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!



Judee Sill – The Kiss (1973)

August 12, 2015 Leave a comment

As well as catching up on the classics of British post-war cinema, I also use my holidays to catch up on my mountain of unread books and my parallel mountain of CDs that deserve to be listened to more often.

In the last three days, I’ve read William Styron’s remarkable account of his battle with depression (“Darkness Visible“), an interesting assessment of whether mild to moderate depression might actually be beneficial from an evolutionary perspective (“How Sadness Survived” by Paul Keedwell) and, ahem, Steve Hanley’s wonderful account of his life as the bass player in The Fall (“The Big Midweek“) – one of the best insider accounts of the world of modern music you will ever read!

I’ve also re-stumbled upon my Judee Sill CDs via seeing a stunning performance from her on an old edition of The Old Grey Whistle Test.

Described by (whispering) Bob Harris as coming across as somewhat like a rather severe librarian, Judee Sill’s live performance of “The Kiss” ends up being one of the most extraordinary recordings ever to grace the hallowed studios of the BBC. Taken from her second, and final, LP Heart Food, “The Kiss” features piano with a nod to Bach and vocals with a nod to heaven.

Born in 1944, she died of a drug overdose in November 1979. Her father died of pneumonia when she was 8 and her mother died when she was 18. Judee Sill was the first artist signed to David Geffen’s Asylum record label in the early 1970s and she released two sublime LPs. This is as good as music gets.

Medicine Head – His Guiding Hand (1969)

December 15, 2014 Leave a comment

This song is simply mesmeric.

Strumming some chords on the guitar the other day, His Guiding Hand suddenly leapt from my memory and became a record I just needed to hear again immediately.

Formed by a couple of grammar school boys, Medicine Head started to play together around 1968.

They were seen at the Lafayette club by John Peel who then played a tape of their songs to John Lennon, Eric Clapton and Pete Townshend  and, at Lennon’s insistence, Peel signed them to his Dandelion record label.

The demo recording of “His Guiding Hand” was released as a single, Peel describing it as “the cheapest single ever made and one of the classic records of all time” and keeping the single in his box of most treasured records. The duo’s first album, New Bottles Old Medicine, was recorded in a single two-hour session, and they toured with Peel at many of his gigs, Peel paying them out of his own fee!

A perfect record.

Asaf Avidan – Reckoning Song (2008) and Wankelmut Remix (2012)

October 30, 2012 Leave a comment

Stumbled on the Wankelmut remix of this while surfing Beatport this evening.

The remix of the track only really begins to hit the heights from about 3 minutes in for me. However, the original is just over 2 and a half minutes of genius and was originally released in 2008.

The plot thickens because Asaf Avidan is an Israeli singer songwriter; a son of diplomats in the Israeli Foreign Office. An Israeli Joe Strummer perhaps?!

Discard any prejudices you may have because this sounds like a cross between Bon Iver and Billie Holiday … a match made in heaven.

Altogether now …

One day baby, we’ll be old

Oh baby, we’ll be old

And think of all the stories that we could have told

The original and then the remix …

Steve Earle – The Galway Girl (2000)

September 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Wonderful track taken from Steve Earle’s Transcendental Blues LP released in 2000. Featuring Sharon Shannon on the accordion.

Steve Earle is, of course, from Texas and not from Ireland. I first became aware of him in 1987 when his breakthrough single Guitar Town appeared as the first track on the legendary NME cassette “The Tape With No Name” (check here for details and tracks from the cassette featured on my other blog ….).

Just love this track for its life affirming spirit and a fantastic melody that simply never relents ….

The LP track then a superb live version from a few years ago.

Steeleye Span – Prince Charlie Stuart (1971)

July 8, 2012 1 comment

Another fantastic record from 1971.

I’m not usually much of a fan of folk music but this has more in common with the Velvet Underground than “All Around My Hat”.

Taken from their second LP “Please To See The King”, I’d be delighted for someone to identify a better record by the band.

Especially relevant today. It’s the rain break at Wimbledon and the young Scottish pretender, Andy Murray, could end up on either end of the result. Is he going to repeat the glorious defeat of Bonnie Prince Charlie or, Brian, are the tables going to be turned ..?

The Pogues – And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda (1985)

January 15, 2012 2 comments

A remarkable song written by Scottish-born Australian singer-songwriter Eric Bogle in 1971 and though recorded by many people (from Joan Baez to The Skids …), the version by The Pogues is the definitive reading. In Robert Christgau’s words:

“And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda” comes from Australian folkie Eric Bogle, one of the least commanding singers in any hemisphere you care to name, but its tale of Gallipoli is long as life and wicked as sin and Shane MacGowan never lets go of it for a second: he tests the flavor of each word before spitting it out”.

Wikipedia desribes the song as a vivid account of the memories of an old Australian man, who, as a youngster in 1915, had been recruited into the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and sent to the Battle of Gallipoli. For “ten weary weeks,” he kept himself alive as “around me the corpses piled higher”. He recalls “that terrible day” … “in the hell that they called Suvla Bay we were butchered like lambs at the slaughter” … “in that mad world of blood, death and fire”.

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