Wednesday 29 May 2024

It's Nicer In The Dark Anyway

Lou Reed with six songs from his performance at L'Olympia Bruno Coquatrix in Paris, France on Sunday 26th May 1974. I missed a trick by not posting this on Sunday 26th May 2024, exactly 40 years on, but I hope you'll overlook this and just revel in the performance.
Lou's band comprises Danny Weiss (guitar), Prakash John (bass), Michael Fonfara (keyboards) and Pentti 'Whitey' Glan (drums). A slightly different line-up and six months on from the New York concerts that birthed the live albums Lou Reed Live and Rock n Roll Animal, it continues Lou's reworking (some may have argued mangling) of his back catalogue. The band are more than up to the task.
Whereas Rock n Roll Animal features a Steve Hunter solo intro to a cover of The Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane, here it's a full-band funk workout for the first minute and a half before switching to the more familiar rhythm, Lou watching from the sidelines before sauntering onto stage a minute later.

Peroxide cropped hair, shades, chiselled cheekbones, flashy jacket and slim black jeans, Lou's image here alone is the springboard for post-punk and every iteration and reimagining since. The sad reality is that Lou was increasingly in the grip of meth and alcohol but in this moment, his performance is red hot. Never mind the vocals, feel the swagger.
00:00 Intro / Sweet Jane (Cover of The Velvet Underground)
07:02 I'm Waiting For The Man (Cover of The Velvet Underground) 
12:28 Lady Day  
15:55 Vicious  
22:13 Sally Can't Dance  
26:13 Ride Sally Ride
This selection is taken from a VHS transfer and you can see, especially in the prolonged close ups of Lou's face, that songs have been edited and spliced together out of sequence. Here's the 12-song setlist as performed on the night.  

1) Intro / Sweet Jane (Cover of The Velvet Underground)
2) Vicious
3) Ride Sally Ride
4) Heroin (Cover of The Velvet Underground)
5) Sally Can't Dance
6) Lady Day
7) I'm Waiting For The Man (Cover of The Velvet Underground)
8) Oh, Jim
9) Walk On The Wild Side
10) White Light/White Heat (Cover of The Velvet Underground)
11) Goodnight Ladies
12) Rock & Roll (Cover of The Velvet Underground)

Tuesday 28 May 2024

The I's Have It

Biig Piig aka Jessica Smyth was born in Cork in the Republic of Ireland, lived with her family to Malaga in Spain from age 4 to 12, currently resides in London, with time writing music in Los Angeles. 

Biig Piig has been releasing music since 2016 - mixtapes, EPs and singles, with a debut album forthcoming - but I've only experienced one song and video, Watch Me. Released last November, it comes across like Black Cherry-era Goldfrapp meeting Christina Aguilera circa-Dirrty. 

Not bad, but inevitably I'm drawn to thinking of her namesake, give or take a couple of i's, Australian seven-piece Big Pig. With their penchant for percussion (4 of the 7), wearing uniform leather blacksmith aprons and, in Sherine Abeyratne, a powerhouse vocalist, the band were short-lived (1985-1991) but memorable.

Justifier was released as a double A-side single with Taste in autumn 1990 to promote second and final album You Lucky People. Neither were hits in their home country (or released to a wider global audience) and by spring 1991 Big Pig had gone their separate ways. A shame as they had some really good tunes, as this gospel-tinged dancefloor banger demonstrates.

Monday 27 May 2024

East End Rise

The first and last time I posted a Renegade Soundwave selection was in November 2022, so it's well past time for a return to The Big Smoke for some sleazy beats and frayed rhymes.

Where to start? Both albums and their dub companions are essential purchases in my mind and the singles offer up a plethora of remixes, usually by RSW themseleves, that are all worth checking out.

So, here's another brief (under 45 minute) selection that dips in and out of all of them. You may need a shower after to wash the grime of the city off.
1) Space Gladiator (Vocal Remix) (1989)
2) Manphibian (1990)
3) On TV (Album Version) (1989)
4) Cocaine Sex (Bonus Porno Beats) (1987)
5) Probably A Robbery (7") (1990)
6) Positive I.D. (Radio Mix) (1995)
7) Thunder (Album Version) (1990)
8) The Man Who Wouldn't Let Wax Wane (Album Version) (1995)
9) Kray Twins (12" Version) (1987)
10) Brixton (Album Version) (1995)
11) Women Respond To Bass (Women Respond To The Terror Drums ft. Pascale Fuillée-Kendall) (1992)
1987: Cocaine Sex EP: 4 
1987: Kray Twins EP: 9
1989: Soundclash: 3
1989: Space Gladiator/The Phantom EP: 1 
1990: Probably A Robbery EP: 5 
1990: RSW In Dub: 7
1990: Thunder II EP: 2
1992: Women Respond To Bass EP: 11
1995: Howyoudoin?: 10
1995: Positive I.D. EP: 6
1995: The Next Chapter Of Dub: 8

East End Rise (43:47) (KF) (Mega)

You can find the previous RSW selection, I'm Checking Out Her Rhythms, right here.

Sunday 26 May 2024

The Hurt In My Heart

This one happened very quickly. PJ Harvey's song came up on a shuffle and suddenly I was following a thread from one song to the other. A dozen songs later, a Dubhed selection was born.

The less obvious connection between all of these choices is that I haven't listened to the source albums in quite a while, the various EPs even more so, a timely reminder that I need to dig them out for the full experience.
Swansway is a gentler version of Siouxsie's debut solo single Into A Swan from 2007 and it's stunning. Likewise, the Tanya Donelly and Kristin Hersh songs, which subsequently appeared on the Lovesongs For Underdogs and Sky Motel albums respectively but which I only own due to the versions appearing on EP releases.
The Deep Field by Joan As Police Woman was lent to me by a friend and every listen reminds me what a great album it. As is i don’t know who needs to hear this..., the debut album from Sarah Tomberlin, a chance discovery when she supported Angel Olsen on tour a couple of years ago.
Rita Lynch has been a staple of the Bristol live music scene for decades and her albums have continued to capture her on-stage fire and lyrical bite, as evidenced by her eighth (I think) in 2022, Mrs. Lynch. Smile is taken from her 2010 album, What Am I?
Sharon Van Etten and Angel Olsen collaborated on a one-off single, the 80s power ballad-infused Like I Used To, so their pairing here seemed an obvious choice. I have pretty much everything that Angel has recorded; conversely relatively little by Sharon, which I need to address.
On a similar note, there were slim pickings in my collection for Julia Holter and Phoebe Bridgers. Both of these choices came from music magazine cover-mounted CDs and I've yet to buy the source albums in either case. Another reminder that I just don't have the time or money to keep up with all of the music that I'd like to explore more....
Lisa Germano first came to my attention via the Inconsiderate Bitch EP on 4AD, label boss Ivo Watts-Russell taking her debut album Happiness (at the time only released in the USA) and remixing several tracks to stunning effect before releasing it to a wider audience. Puppet is a prime example of this, the versions on the 4AD EP and album proving to be standout tracks on both releases. I got the original album many years later, which if nothing else proves that Puppet was a great song to begin with. So, what better way to wrap up this selection? 
1) Big Exit (Album Version): PJ Harvey (2000)
2) Les Jeux To You: Julia Holter (2018)
3) Swansway: Siouxsie (2007)
4) Smile: Rita Lynch (2010)
5) Chinese Satellite: Phoebe Bridgers (2020)
6) Nervous: Joan As Police Woman (2011)
7) Swoon: Tanya Donelly (1996)
8) collect caller: Tomberlin (2022)
9) Echo (Single Version): Kristin Hersh (1999)
10) You Shadow: Sharon Van Etten (2019)
11) Intern: Angel Olsen (2016)
12) Puppet (US Album Version): Lisa Germano (1993)
1993: Happiness (USA): 12
1996: Sliding And Diving EP: 7 
1999: Echo EP: 9
2000: Stories From The City, Stories From The Sea: 1
2007: Into A Swan EP: 3
2010: What Am I?: 4 
2011: The Deep Field: 6
2016: My Woman: 11
2018: Aviary: 2
2019: Remind Me Tomorrow: 10
2020: Punisher: 5
2022: i don’t know who needs to hear this...: 8

The Hurt In My Heart (46:06) (KF) (Mega)

Saturday 25 May 2024

Strange Brew

On Wednesday night, it was a mad dash from work in Gloucestershire to Bristol city centre to see Barry Adamson live in concert at Strange Brew

It's an innocuous location, a shop-front 330-capacity live venue underneath a multi-storey car park at the end of a row of shops: antics/The Model Shop has been around for decades, the relatively recent addition of Kebab U Like is sadly no more. During the day, you'd be forgiven for not knowing it's even there, but once the music starts....
Doors opened at 7.30pm, I go there just before 7.45pm, which was just as well as Nadine Khouri was just starting her set. Just her, a guitar and some effects/beats for a thirty minute set and about half a dozen songs.

As mentioned in Thursday's post, I'm largely ignorant of Nadine's music, having only dipped into a little of her back catalogue out of curiosity when she was announced as the support for Barry's tour. I don't think that's a bad thing necessarily, though for the purposes of this review it means that apart from a couple of songs that Nadine introduced I have no idea what she played!

I don't know if it was the relatively early start or the propensity for being fashionably late and/or sinking a few pints elsewhere before going to a gig, but I was amongst a very few to witness Nadine's set...
... a shame, because it was an enjoyable half-hour, particularly her performance of Vertigo. Applause was polite, though there were a couple of enthusiastic men near the front. "I recognise a couple of faces," Nadine smiled after one such robust display of admiration. Bristol has been something of a second home for Nadine, having recorded her two albums with John Parish in the city and gigged here previously.

Having been blown away by Ellen Beth Abdi's performance up the road a week or so previously, Nadine Khouri's support slot was a more modest, low-key show by comparison but enjoyable nevertheless. I'll be investigating further.

The main event starts promptly at 8.45pm, Barry joined on stage by (I think) Ian on bass and Kyra on drums, the man himself switching between electric and acoustic guitars and managing keys, beats and backing via a handily placed pad.

More people have turned up at this point, though it's far from a sold-out gig. "I was told only ten people were coming," jokes Barry at one point. "We're all here!" some wag replies. A shame because in a just world, Barry should be playing larger venues, crammed with an enthusiastic audience. 
As it was, I didn't think I'd get to see Mr. Adamson live in concert at all, so I was glad to have the opportunity and in such an intimate setting. He didn't disappoint.
Four songs from new album Cut To Black, released the week before and, being the opening night of Barry's UK/EU tour, performed on stage for the first time. I've fallen deeply for the album and had played it at least a dozen times before arriving at Strange Brew, so the songs are very familiar to me.

The set opens with (vinyl) side one closer, These Would Be Blues, a downtempo, gospel-tinged exhortation to "lay your burden down", Barry emoting in true cabaret style. We're then treated to the title track, followed by Demon Lover, which channels Etta James and Marc Almond in equal measure. Last of the quartet is Manhattan Satin, Barry's tribute to the New York City that he first visited in the late 1970s. 

Despite his own admission of first night nerves, this was a perfectly pitched opening sequence, the stripped back sound of the 3-piece band suiting the songs and the location.

"Right, that's enough of the new album," Barry states, before diving into his back catalogue for the next five songs. That said, it's not a deep dive and quite specifically targeted. Aside from the sole encore, this is a set of almost-exclusively 21st century songs. Half of the songs are from Cut To Black; curiously, a quarter are from 2008 album Back To The Cat and two are from 2021's Steal Away EP. No songs from Moss Side Story, Soul Murder, Oedipus Schmoedipus, even previous album No Where To Run. And yet, the chosen songs and sequence all made sense as a whole.

The Beaten Side Of Town is the first of the Back To The Cat selections, before Barry pulls up a stool, swaps electric for acoustic and plays Sundown County. Midway though, Barry announces "And this is the other side", before switching to a cover of Hot Love by T. Rex (with some audience participation), and then returning to Sundown County for the final section.

The Climber, also from the Steal Away EP, is the second and final solo acoustic number, before Barry goes, er, back to Back To The Cat with Straight 'Til Sunrise and Civilization.
The Last Words Of Sam Cooke, released as a single in March and enthusiastically received by this here blogger, follows next. It's a stunning opener to Cut To Black but really hits the spot here, ten songs in. One Last Midnight follows, with it's fruity organ intro that immediately calls to mind Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan and a rousing chorus

Wildfires out of control!
We hardly see the sun now.
Wildfires out of control!
We hardly see the sun.
Shots fired wide of the goal,
The game it should be won now.
Wildfires out of control!
We hardly see the sun… anymore.
It comes as a shock that this is introduced as the final and Barry ushers the band off stage to the sound of applause that keeps going until the inevitable return to the stage for an encore.
We only get one ("It's way past my bed time!" Barry admits) but it's a doozy: Jazz Devil, from 1998's As Above So Below. And then, that's it, lights up and the inevitable shuffle to the door and walk back to the car. I check the time, it's 9.55pm. What an hour (and a bit)!

As the set draws so heavily on Cut To Black, I've intentionally edited and overlaid the respective tracks in today's selection, in the hope that you'll be encouraged - if you weren't already - to go and buy the album from Barry's website or Bandcamp. Whilst you're there, you can also pick up all of the songs featured here as well as Barry's extensive and brilliant back catalogue.
1) These Would Be Blues (2024) 
2) Cut To Black (2024)
3) Demon Lover (2024)
4) Manhattan Satin (2024)
5) The Beaten Side Of Town (2008)
6) Sundown County (ft. Big Walt Daniels) (2021)
7) The Climber (2021)
8) Straight 'Til Sunrise (2008)
9) Civilization (2008)
10) The Last Words Of Sam Cooke (2024)
11) One Last Midnight (2024)
12) Jazz Devil (1998)
1998: As Above So Below: 12
2008: Back To The Cat: 5, 8, 9
2021: Steal Away EP: 6, 7
2024: Cut To Black: 1, 2, 3, 4, 10, 11 

Strange Brew (50:26) (KF) (Mega)
In early celebration of Barry's birthday on 11th June, I've reactivated the selection I curated for his 65th last year.

Post script: due to motorway closure, I had to take the scenic drive home, including a detour past Yate Town Football Club, which seemed to have an unusually large number of cars exiting as I drove past. Turns out I missed an opportunity to see these guys. More leg end than legend, I think an hour in the company of Mr. Adamson was the better deal!

Friday 24 May 2024

Like An Insect Up And Down The Walls

As an appetiser for my review of Barry Adamson's gig at Strange Brew this week (coming Saturday, I promise), here's a classic from Magazine, circa 1978.
I've never seen the video for The Light Pours Out Of Me before and it's a nicely staged studio performance, with the individual members coming into shot with their respective musical introductions. 
So, you get a first sight of Barry (well, his torso at least) and guitar as that incredible bass line kicks in at 0:14, having followed John Doyle on drums and before John McGeogh, resplendent in a pink knitted jumper steps in front and, finally, Howard Devoto saunters into view, one hand in pocket, causally observing that "Time flies, time crawls..." 
Poor Dave Formula has to wait until 1:07 to get a look in but he makes up for it by playing two sets of keys, each placed either side of him.
One of the greatest openings to a song? It's hard to beat.
Before this raises any false hope, Barry didn't perform this or any other Magazine songs at Wednesday's show. However, here's one he did earlier, at the Moth Club in London on 27th April 2017. Different voice, different guitar, same great tune.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Come Rip These Fuckers To Shreds

I saw Nadine Khouri at Strange Brew in Bristol last night, playing a live set in support of the legendary Barry Adamson
More thoughts on the night itself to follow up, but a few songs from Nadine in the meantime. I'll confess, I wasn't aware of her music at all until I read that she was touring with Barry, prompting a stop at Bandcamp and YouTube to have a listen in advance.  
Given that Nadine's two albums to date - The Salted Air (2017) and Another Life (2022) - were both recorded in Bristol and produced/co-produced by John Parish, the question is how did I miss this for so long?
The post title is a line from Vertigo (full lyrics below), a song from Another Life which I know was performed last night along with the title track as she introduced them both by name.
I'm not 100% sure if Nadine played Song Of A Caged Bird from the same album too, but I like the song and it's one of a couple that have an accompanying video.

Sealing the connection with last night's gig, Song Of A Caged Bird also received a rather fine remix from Barry Adamson last year.
On Tuesday, Nadine posted a lyric video for album closer Box Of Echoes, filmed and edited on her phone in Nadine's current home of Marseille.
Another Life is available in physical and digital formats via Bandcamp and is well worth a listen... is the rest of Nadine's back catalogue, including Broken Star from her debut album.

No surprise that Leonard Cohen is an influence and Nadine has covered several of his songs. Here's a lovely cover of Suzanne, performed as a six-piece band at The Empire Bar in Hackney on 30th November 2019.

Strike while the iron is hot 
Pull up the gear-shift and drive 
Don’t ask me how far we got 
Or what time we'll arrive 

The air is bone dust and ash 
The earth is fire and mace 
Bring your tennis racket 
Pour some milk on your face 


The ground cracks under your feet 
The buildings moving in waves 
I see you spinning off-axis 
Disintegrating in rage 

The sunlight sets on their guns 
Somehow the days re-begin 
You’re still an open wound 
Flapping wild in the wind 


I can’t slow down 
I’m spinning and I need to keep moving on 

This time you feel it without 
This time you feel it within 
They stalk and intercept you 
From under your skin 

Under their demon red cloud 
Where do we go from here? 
You’re spitting bloodlust out loud 
I’m still trying to steer 

The streets are piling with tires 
Someone stole all the cash 
This time you carry the barrel 
And I’ll flick the match 
This time they blew up the place 
This time they made their bed 
Not a single one spoke out 
Come rip these fuckers to shreds 
Maybe they pushed us too far 
Till there was nowhere to go 
If we scream in this hall of mirrors 
Can anybody hear us? 
Will anybody know? 
Can anybody hear at all? 


I can’t slow down 
I’m spinning and I need to keep moving on

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Champion Sounds

Wishing a very happy birthday to the legend that is Dennis Bovell, born 22nd May 1953.
To celebrate, here's a selection of seven classic tunes, compositions and covers, most of them live performances, many taking familiar songs in different directions, all of them a testament to Dennis' brilliance whether his hands are on the mic, the strings of a guitar or at the controls.
Champion (Live @ RDH Hi-Fi Sound System, Dub Camp Festival, Joué-sur-Erdre, France): Dennis Bovell (2019)
Guide Us Jah (Live @ Concerts For The People Of Kampuchea, Hammersmith Odeon, London): Matumbi (1979)
After Tonight (Live @ Southbank Centre, London) (Cover of Matumbi): Dennis Bovell & Reggae Choir (2021)
Caught You In a Lie (Cover of Robert Parker): Dennis Bovell (2022)
Silly Games (Akoustik Version) (Cover of Janet Kay): Dennis Bovell (2020)
Pretender (Live @ Wetlands, New York): Dennis Bovell & The Dub Band (1990)
Choose Me (Soho Radio Vinyl Session)L Dennis Bovell & Ruben Fox (2021) 
And the cherry on top is Dennis performing a 40-minute live set at Rough Trade East in London for Record Store Day in 2022. 

You may not hear anything more life affirming today.

Have a great one, DB!