Whole Lotta Led

Whole Lotta Led – the Barn – 26 April 2014. No lookalikes here – just superb musicians playing Led Zep songs really well. One of my Jemtunes blog followers said a little ago that there’s no such thing as too much Led Zeppelin. This proves him right on so many levels.

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Constant

April is ‘National Poetry Writing Month’ so here’s something for the writing challenge.

Music knows no boundaries

It cares not how I feel

It has but one sole purpose

To cure all and to heal.

It will lift me and console me

It will always be a friend

It will surprise me and amaze me

For its wisdom knows no end.

They say familiarity

Sometimes breeds content

That’s all too true for this is where

I’m all too often sent

For music knows my every mood

And unequivocally provides

The lift that nuance might suggest

From somewhere deep inside.

Music is my constant solace

And has been through the years

Always there when e’er I need

In smiles and joys and tears.

 

(This one’s called ‘Constant’. I wrote it yesterday but only found out about the writing challenge today. Enjoy.)

Freebird – aka ‘Guitar solos part II’

I my teens I had an old Bakelite TV on which I could only get BBC2. Which was fine by me as the only programme I was interested in was aired on a Tuesday night on BBC2 – the Old Grey Whistle Test.

Originating from their self-titled debut album ‘Lynryd Skynryd’ in 1973 and penned (well, the opening chords at least) by guitarist Allen Collins, this was the song to end all parties – up to 15 minutes of unadulterated guitar brilliance. Allen Collins reigns supreme in this clip from 1975 and, if you want to hear what I’m taking about but can’t be bothered to wait, fast forward to 5:40 in.

Alphabet tunes

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Whilst my tribe take over the TV on Easter Sunday – thought I’d dust off a few tunes. So here’s a little random A-Z from my music collection:

  1. Joan Armatrading – My Myself I/Walk Under Ladders
  2. Sam Browne – Box
  3. Cry of Love – Brother
  4. Ian Dury & The Blockheads – Laughter
  5. Elbow – Asleep in the back
  6. Free – All right now
  7. Al Green – Al
  8. The Hives – your new favourite band
  9. I am Kloot – Natural History
  10. Jethro Tull – Aqualung
  11. Kasabian (self titled)
  12. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
  13. Mountain – Man’s World
  14. Nirvana – Never Mind
  15. One Minute Silence – One Lie fits all
  16. Cat Power – the Covers record
  17. Quantic Soul Orchestra – An announcement to answer
  18. Rage against the machine (self titled)
  19. Steely Dan – very best of
  20. Talking Heads – Once in a lifetime
  21. Underworld – Second toughest in the infants
  22. The VirginMarys – Cast the first stone
  23. Wishbone Ash – Argus
  24. XTC – Go 2
  25. Neil Young – After the goldrush
  26. ZZ Top – Antenna

Woodstock – 3 days of peace & music

IMGP0655In 1969 four young men had a dream – to produce the greatest rock concert ever held. Little did they know at the time how enormous a reality their dream would become. Woodstock, the festival, was a milestone in rock music history – a once in a lifetime event – a spectacular event that became symbolic of the sixties and labelled a generation to be remembered forever as the ‘Woodstock Generation’. Although those at the festival itself numbered in excess 500,000, over 2 million attempted to get to the 660-acre dairy farm in White Lake, NY. It was a statement of a generation, epitomised by a voice that shouted ‘make love, not war’ and championed by a massive variety of stunning musicians who, like the festival itself, have since made an indelible stamp on the history of popular music culture.

IMGP0906Woodstock – the album – a triple gatefold – captures a snapshot soundbite of those three days. It’s one I have played and re-played countless times – the stage announcements, crowd noise and particularly the  rain chant immediately preceding the epic ‘Soul Sacrifice’ from Santana on side 4- admirably capturing the ambiance of the event.

The festival site was declared a disaster zone, sometimes remembered as much for the rain as it was for the music. But it was a warm rain and the storms only lasted a while and the sun came back out and all was well again. Richie Havens (who sadly passed away in April 2013) sums it up so well…

″The rain made the people interact with each other. The rain made it necessary for us to share whatever we had – the plastic that went over our heads, the coat or whatever – and it was the natural forces that played a great deal in what happened. So I balance it out as a cosmic accident. It was half ours and half God’s″

IMGP0907Woodstock was about a lot of things, but the music was always the kingpin. And there was so much of it. I have many favourites; Soul Sacrifice has already been mentioned, but there’s also Richie Havens’ ‘Freedom’, ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ – the first ever live performance anywhere from Crosby, Stills & Nash, Joe Cocker’s brilliant Beatles cover of ‘With a little help from my friends’ and of course, ‘Purple Haze’ from Jimi Hendrix. But, as suggested by my last blog – the ubiquitous Ten Years After helping of ‘I’m going home (by helicopter)’ always wins it for me. In Woodstock – the movie (which I also have on DVD now) these nine minutes of guitar mayhem finish with a totally knackered Alvin Lee dropping his signature Gibson ES335 and staggering off stage with a huge watermelon.

Woodstock was and is THE festival. There’s never been anything quite like it since, and probably never will be. But, if it wasn’t for the bravery of a dairy farmer from upstate New York who stepped in at the eleventh hour when the original festival site plans flopped, it might never have been.

″Max Yasgur for President: That’s the way it is, Baby″ (Times Herald Record, Middletown, N.Y. 24.09.69)

Desert island discs #2 – Ten Years After

tya01Ten Years After have remained one of my all time favourite bands ever since I first discovered them almost 40 years ago. So, for this second episode in the Jemtunes Desert Island Discs series, Ten Years After are up there. Problem is that as I can’t distinguish between the albums I have, which is my favourite, I’m bringing them all!

Hailing from  Nottingham, UK and formed originally in 1965 as ‘The Jaybirds’, they soon found a name more in keeping with the booming underground progressive music scene. Fronted by Alvin Lee (vocals and guitar), Chick Churchill (keyboards), Ric Lee (no relation) (drums) and Leo Lyons (bass), Ten Years After emerged and, in 1967 released their self-titled debut. ‘Adventures of a Young Organ’ is my favourite track.

IMGP0643‘Undead’ followed in 1968 and featured the track that was to become the Ten Years After signature and put Alvin Lee firmly on the map as one of the fastest guitar players around. But ‘I’m going home’ isn’t my fave on this album – that belongs to ‘Woodchoppers Ball’, a 9-minute R&B marathon.

IMGP0654In the following year, they released ‘Stonedhenge’ a word play on the UK free festival scene. Favourite track is the last on the album – ‘Speed Kills’.

Later that year, Ten Years After ventured across the pond to play at another little festival going on in downtown New York state – something called ‘Woodstock’. Recovering from a bad bout of the flu, Alvin Lee took the rain-soaked crowd through a blistering 11-minute version of ‘I’m Going Home (by helicopter )’ and established the band as one which would tour the US more than any other UK band

IMGP0633Ssssh was also released in 1969 and might just have the edge for me. It’s certainly my rarest as this one still has its original giveaway poster. No question that ‘I woke up this morning’ carries the torch here.

IMGP0638Two more albums followed in 1970. The first was Cricklewood Green featuring ‘Love like a man’ giving the band their only single. This reached No.10 in the UK charts in June and stayed there for 18 weeks.

IMGP0642Watt followed later in the autumn and included a live version of Chuck Berry’s ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’ recorded at that summer’s Stone Henge festival.

IMGP0636‘A space in time’ came out in 1971 and was the first Ten Years After album i bought, albeit second hand around four years later. But I fell in live with ‘Once there was a time’ (track 1, side 2) which pretty well sums what it is to be a guitar player. There’s nothing bad about that track!

IMGP06401972’s offering was ‘Rock n Roll music to the world’ where ‘Choo choo Mama’ rules the roost for me with the album’s signature tune a very close second.

IMGP0641And then finally (for the real TYA albums) there was 1973’s ‘Recorded Live’ , a fine double album capturing the band as they really should be heard – live. It’s really hard to choose from the 12 tracks on offer here, but I think it’s probably the 16 minutes of ‘I can’t keep from crying sometimes’ on side three – British blues at its absolute best.

‘Recorded Live’ was effectively the band’s swansong, There would be one final album – ‘ Positive Vibrations’ in 1974. But it was a very poor relation to what had gone before and came out only weeks before the band confirmed it had split.

However, although I have a number of other superb compilations and a few from the reformed TYA before Alvin Lee’s sad passing in March 2013, there is one final one I’m featuring here – a very rare and totally illegal bootleg…

IMGP0631Of extremely suspect quality and produced in 1971, this nonetheless captures six tracks of the band performing live at small UK clubs and venues and has a certain something. It even has a spelling mistake on the back cover – ‘Spider in my web’ is shown as ‘Spider in my wip’.

Ten Years After remain for me probably the best British R&B band of the late 60s/early 70s – and that’s saying something, as there a number of contenders there. Some will feature later in this series; they have their own attractions, but TYA simply float my boat in absolutely every way. Always have. Always will.

R.I.P Alvin (1944-2013)

Preventing plastic pretenders – promulgating real music.

Somethings saddens me about manufactured groups like ‘The Saturdays’. It saddens me that they engender a false fame and fortune built on an admitted ability to sing but precious little else. Their songs are written for them and played by hired musicians, but their longevity will cease as soon as their created fiefdom fades.

Yet waiting in the wings with an abundance of real talent, uniqueness and ability are bands like Mok who will always outshine these plastic pretenders. All they need is half a chance – their genuine ability will do the rest.

Plastic pretender bands will probably end up doing very normal jobs when they run out of talent and popularity. We need to stop that from even getting started by getting Mok and bands like them up there and known and listened to and loved. If we don’t, music longevity will be a thing of the past.

Fact – the Rolling Stones have 50 years of longevity and are still touring – but only grandchildren will have any vague recollection of todays plastic pretenders.

Personally, I think it’d be something of a travesty if we allow that to happen by failing to support the real musical talent out there in abundance. All we have to do is look in the right places.

Here’s a bit of Mok for you – catch them live at The Haunt in Brighton on Saturday 31st May 2014.

 

What’s on my i-pod? (part III)

For my April playlist – aka ‘MacApr’ – I’ve downloaded 18 crackers. Should keep me going for a while. Some old stuff; some new. No particular theme – just downloaded whatever took my fancy. Here’s what I ended up with.

  • (1) Massive – Dancefloor
  • (2) Ramble Riders – Why
  • (3) Elephant Child – Kiss
  • (4)Led Man – Was it hard
  • (5) UK Blues Project – I’m back

Live+at+the+Greek+disc+1+006. Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes – Custard Pie

  • (7) Wilko Johnson & Roger Daltrey – Sneaking Suspicion
  • (8) Cage the gods – Favourite sin

crooked-timber-4f4bfbb28be6a 9. Therapy? – Enjoy the Struggle

  • (10) Laurence Jones – Soul Swamp River
  • (11) The Medicine – The changing of the times
  • (12) Led Zepagain – Whole lotta love
  • (13) Nine Below Zero – I’m so alone
  • (14) Band of Skulls – Asleep at the wheel

winery-dogs 15. The Winery Dogs – Desire

  • (16) Toseland – Singer in a band
  • (17) Spin Doctors – Scotch & Water Blues

The+Jesus+Lizard+-+Down+-+CD+ALBUM-48533718. The Jesus Lizard – Queen for a day

Watch out for the next Jemtunes blog – the next in the ‘Desert Island Discs’ series – coming here soon.