Jemtunes desert island discs #1


In the halcyon days of the early 1970’s, my Dad was home a lot, convalescing after a heart attack. He’d built a mono Garrard stereogram from scratch to keep his mind busy and this took pride of place in the corner of the front room behind the door. It’s one single speaker was a behemoth of a floor-stander and whereas hi-fi it probably was not; loud it most certainly was.

And this suited my purposes perfectly as my fledgling record collection comprised a a single album, half a dozen singles I’d bought myself and a few jazz 45’s I’d sort of inherited from my Dad. The singles are probably best left nameless – I know what they are but that doesn’t mean I have to tell you! But the album was Led Zeppelin IV from 1971. Not a bad one to start off with at age 13! And if I knew one thing about music in those early days, it was that Led Zep IV needed to be played LOUD!

I’d first heard tracks from the album at Brighton’s original Virgin Records. Housed in premises at the bottom of Queens Road where the modern day Boots superstore now stands, it had a wooden-floored basement listening room packed with big cushions and beanbags. And, on days when Mum would come into Brighton shopping, I’d happily spend my time sitting one one of those cushions and soaking up sounds.

I actually brought the album itself though from Woolworths in the village. Well – we called it ‘the village; it was actually a late-60’s concrete shopping area built just north of the Green in the small Sussex town of Southwick where I lived as a boy.

It was about £2.75 I think – most of the money I had saved in my money-box. But it was an instant treasure. If I’d have had the wherewithal then of digitally scanning the inner gatefold ‘Hermit’ illustration, that would have taken pride of place in my bedroom wall. But that was the future and this was 1973. And I was happy just to look and listen.

From the opening ‘Hey hey mama, said the way you move…’ to the closing hammer of ‘When the levee breaks’, these are 8 tracks of pure joy; as fresh now – listening as I write this blog – as it was when I first played them over 40 years ago! These are 8 tracks which I quite simply would have to have on my desert island. Yes, ‘Stairway’s’ in there but, brilliant as it is, that doesn’t clinch it for me. That privilege belongs to ‘Black Dog’. Forever the opener and forever for me the ender.

Many pretenders have tried to go there since – some slightly more successful than others. The closest (truth be told) – particularly in terms of the spine-tingler aspect – was my daughter’s band ‘Mok’ in a mashup they put together for a local gig last year. Just the opening lines – but to frank – that’s all it takes. If that grabs you, five seconds in, you just know it’s going to be good!

February 2014 downloads

This’ll be something of a regular feature for Jemtunes – what I’ve been downloading. I’ve subscribed to an American download site since 2006 – Check them out. No mainstream chart stuff but loads of gems from around the globe. Here’s a sample of some of what I’ve found this month.

Helloween’s ‘Faith Healer’ – unbelievably good cover of The Sensational Alex Harvey band hit from 1972. ‘Ghostmix’ from System 7; Steve Hillage’s erstwhile electronica subset. The Masters of Reality self titled release comprising the Ginger Baker, Chris Goss and Googe collaboration. Another self titled debut from ‘Blue Moon Harem’ (2002) featuring the excellent opener ‘Addiction’. And ‘Running Man’ – Babajack’s new album; more sublime blues ballads from the British Blues Awards 2013 winners.

But the crown this month still belongs to No Sinner and their excellent debut ‘Boo Hoo Hoo’. Out now on Provogue. Get it!


So this is Jemtunes…

Hello and welcome to Jemtunes – my brand new music blog. Thought I’d kick things off by waffling on about it for a bit and something about what you might expect to see here. But first things first. My other music blog is to continue. No worries there. So keep checking out as well. I’m not going to change that. Just being greedy and having two. Jemtunes is going to be something more of a sounding board I think. I’m looking at weekly updates so it’s going to be tighter than Jemsmusic. Lots more current stuff about what I’ve been listening to; stuff you need to hear; stuff I’ve heard about on the web; stuff I’ve read about in the press. And all music related

Music’s a major part of my life – always has been, always will be. But as it’s selfish to keep all that good stuff just to myself, I’ll be using Jemtunes to share a little bit of that pleasure with you. For now though – here’s my favourite pic from gigs I’ve been to of late.