Friday, 31 August 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Otis Redding and Carla Thomas -Tramp

Classic track taken from 'King & Queen', a studio album by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas. It is Redding's sixth album and Thomas's fourth, and the final studio album released by Redding before his death on December 10, 1967. Influenced by Marvin Gaye's duets, the album features ten covers of soul classics and the eleventh finishing song co-written by Redding. Three singles were released from the album: 'Tramp', the first cut song, was released as a single in April and peaked at number two on Billboard R&B chart and at number twenty-six on Billboard Hot 100. Following Redding's death in December 1967, the single 'Lovey Dovey' was also released. The original album's liner notes were written by Tennessee Senator Howard H. Baker, Jr. It was released on March 16, 1967 by Stax Records.

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: The Primitives - Crash

"'Crash' is a song written by The Primitives band members Paul Court, Steve Dullaghan and Tracy Spencer. The song was first recorded by The Primitives for their 1988 debut album Lovely. This version of the song was released as a single and a cassette in 1988 and peaked at number five on United Kingdom singles chart and number three on the U.S. Modern Rock Tracks. In 1994, the song was featured on the Dumb & Dumber movie soundtrack as "Crash (The '95 Mix)". This remix included additional guitars, percussion, organ and backing vocals - none of which were performed by any of The Primitives. Several cover versions are actually based on the '95 Mix and not the original..."

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LISTEN TO: Red Hot Chili Peppers - 'Magpie's On Fire' and 'Victorian Machinery'

Red Hot Chili Peppers have unveiled the next two tracks in the set of 18 new singles they are set to release over the next six months. 

The tracks are titled 'Magpie's On Fire' and 'Victorian Machinery' and you can hear them by scrolling down to the bottom of the page and clicking. They will be formally released on September 11. 

The band released tracks titled 'Strange Man' and 'Long Progession' earlier this month and will release another two tracks, this time titled 'Never Is A Long Time' and 'Love Of Your Life', on October 2. 

The fourth, fifth, and sixth singles, the titles of which have yet to be announced, will follow on November 6, December 4, and December 18. More will then be released in early 2013. All the tracks were recorded during the band's sessions for their 2011 studio album 'I'm With You'. 

Drummer Chad Smith recently said the band had been working on new material while frontman Anthony Kiedis was recovering from foot surgery earlier this year.

"Those are just waiting," Smith says. "We'll go back to those when we start writing again, I'm sure - or not. We're just always trying to come up with new stuff; usually the latest and greatest is what we use, but you never know. If there's something that's really good or if Anthony's really connected to any of them, that sometimes has something to do with it, so we'll see."

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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Charlie Lankester And The Mojo Killers - The Spinning Of The Wheel

The hugely inspirational Charlie Lankester, who will next month release his debut album whilst battling hepatocellular carcinoma - incurable cancer of the liver - next week releases his debut single 'The Spinning Of The Wheel'. You can download the track HERE.

The day before singer / songwriter / pianist Charlie Lankester was due to mix the final track of his upcoming ‘Song In A Minor Key’ solo album in the studio, (in mid-December 2011), he was diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma - incurable cancer of the liver. So much for the bad news; the good news is that, in Charlie's own words “I ain't dead yet”; in fact, he is now playing and singing better than ever. “I was feeling so good about the album that when the doctor told me I had only months to live I just laughed and said ‘No mate, that's not gonna happen. I've got an album to release.” Fired up by the determination to see through the fruition of his new creation, he immediately finished mixing and sought the very best alternative medical advice available to him - rather than undergo extensive chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Charlie’s tumour has now been reduced by fifty per cent, thanks to dedicated diets and supplements for cancer, plus several courses of intravenous doses of high intensity vitamin C.

Charlie Lankester first tasted life as a musician when he dropped out of medical school in the late 70’s and spent four years in Aussie cult outfit The Last Chance Cafe, building a major following ‘Down Under’ and winning support slots with the likes of Fats Domino, BB King, JJ Cale, AC / DC, Billy Joel and Status Quo. Various record deals were offered by such labels as Polygram, CBS and Mushroom, but the band imploded just as they were put on the table.

20 years on and Charlie is set to release the first single, 'The Spinning Of The Wheel', on August 20th.

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MOJO magazine - Issue 227 October 2012

Wow. Just when I thought MOJO Magazine couldn't get any better, they go and bring out this new issue featuring The Smiths and a truly excellent free CD. 


FREE CD! THERE IS A LIGHT THAT NEVER GOES OUT: A compendium of indie classics, 1982-1987, featuring Felt, The La’s The Go-Betweens, Billy Bragg, Martin Stephenson and The Daintees, The Nightingales, The Weather Prophets, Television Personalities & more.

THE SMITHS: It’s a tale that’s been told before, but in this extract from his forthcoming biography of the Manchester four-piece Tony Fletcher reveals new details and brings new depths to the story of Morrissey, Marr, Rourke Joyce and the birth of a band. Plus Johnny Marr reveals details of his first solo album and Morrissey brings the noise back to Manchester.

DEXYS: The Midlands’ own post-punk soul rebel, Kevin Rowland, digs deep into his past to recall the clothes, haircuts, songs, mistakes and triumphs that comprise the remarkable history of Dexys Midnight Runners and beyond.

KRAFTWERK: Who built the robots? In this extract from his new book, David Buckley reveals the deep chaotic history of German’s most futuristic band, on the road to Autobahn.

BOB DYLAN: It began with a chance pick-up on the streets in the East Village and ended in the fiery chaos of The Rolling Thunder Revue. Michael Simmons revisits the accident, chaos, genius and controversy of Dylan’s most revealing album.

BILL FAY: He’s made one of the records of the year. His last great studio album was over 40 years ago. And this is his first ever face-to-face interview. A quiet, unassuming, great British songwriter meets Andrew Male for a cup of tea and a chat.

REVIEWED!: The xx / Bob Dylan / Aimee Mann / Toy / Animal Collective / Green Day / Grizzly Bear / Mumford & Sons / Sex Pistols / Woody Guthrie / SRC / Elbow / Taj Mahal / Lee Hazlewood / Waylon Jennings / Led Zeppelin / Jimi Hendrix / Freddie Mercury / Radiohead / Liz Fraser and much more.

PLUS! Blur at Hyde Park / Kenney Jones meets Bradley Wiggins / Freddie Mercury photo book unveiled / In the studio with Alicia Keys / The MOJO Playlist: this month’s essential tracks / Introducing... Ombre and Gary Clark Jr. / J Mascis’ Mind Blowers / Vangelis speaks / How I wrote All Right Now by Andy Fraser / MOJO Eyewitness – The Anarchy Toy ’76 / On the road with Tune-Yards / Farewell, Jon Lord, Kitty Wells and Bob Babbitt.

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

REVIEW: Ultrasound - Play For Today

Ultrasound are certainly not your average indie band. They are in fact a one-off. You may remember them from the front covers of music papers in the late 90's, when the music press were hailing them as the next British rock phenomenon. After a string of immaculate singles the NME and Melody Maker hoped for more epic pop anthems, but what they got instead was 1999's sprawling debut album 'Everything Picture'. It was a vast, prog-heavy record that caused much confusion, and its over-ambition probably played a part in the band's break-up. Before too long it seemed that their dreams had faded, and the members of Ultrasound once again found themselves having to earn themselves a living through ordinary jobs and state benefits. 

A decade after they imploded, the group surprised many when they reunited and immediately found their old magic again, a magic that it seems was never lost, just temporarily misplaced. A new album arrives 13 years after the debut, and make no mistake, they still have the power to win over many hearts. There is sadness, anger, love, defiance and joy in their music and no other band can serve it all up in such a unique way as these five people do. They make some sort of psychedelic glam prog punk with tendencies for epic explosions of emotion. This time round it's certainly a case of quality over quantity. It's half as long as 'Everything Picture', yet somehow it is even more epic. It packs more into its 51 glorious minutes than its 13 year old predecessor did in its sprawling 102, and as a result of its superior consistency, 'Play For Today' has a far greater impact. After a few plays of this superb album, resistance is not an option.

'Welfare State' is the sound of the beast roaring back to life, the thumping drums and jagged guitar heralding a most spectacular return. While their time is often spent in day jobs and dole queues, their music gives them the power to take on the world again, and if the world isn't fortunate enough to listen, then it's mankind's loss. Grubby elegance, tattered pride and rock 'n roll thrills give way to a cosmic interlude that soon leads into a gutsy build up to one final verse and chorus. 'Beautiful Sadness' is more gritty than its title may suggest, catchy post punk yielding classic rock riffs, organ psyche-outs and plenty of anthemic power. The astounding 'Twins' flows beautifully and sounds effortlessly huge, the verse's spacey ambience exploding into a joyous surging chorus that leaves you in no doubt that their musical horizons as broad as ever.  

With its charming Byrds-esque guitar and superb keys from Bob Birch, the lovely and infectious 'Nonsense' is an enticing reminder that what we see in the mirror isn't always the same as what the rest of the world sees, while the resplendent 'Between Two Rivers' is truly classic songwriting. With its wearily epic tone and rueful brass band sonority, there are hints of Pink Floyd's 'Atom Heart Mother', but as I said before, only Ultrasound could have created this song, perhaps the centrepiece of the album and a moment that embeds itself deeper and deeper into your head every time you hear it. 'Goodbye Baby, Amen' is where the record shows its teeth, relentless rock n roll snarling with abrasive punk riffs and Tiny once again properly letting rip on vocals. 

'Deux Ex Natura' is splendidly produced and wonderfully arranged, the soaring melody and chiming grace of a lovely verse launching into a dramatic chorus packed with sweeping tragedy and powerful grandeur, rather like their own 'Design For Life'. The addictively breezy 'Long Way Home' is another stunning moment, delivered with every ounce of the band's heart and soul, a beautifully reflective verse bursting into a Motown-like chorus. The intense and darkly soulful 'Glitter Box' is a real surprise, where bassist Vanessa Best delivers a sensational lead vocal performance before 'Sovereign' provides a magnificent closer, heaving with emotion during its skyscraping chorus and ending the dying seconds of the album on an endearingly sincere note. 

If 'Play For Today' takes a couple of listens for these excellent songs to make their impact, then you will be truly rewarded for your patience. We've waited well over a decade for another Ultrasound record, so living with these songs for a while and waiting for them to imprint themselves into your heart is time well spent. And when they do gain your affections, you will be thankful that you gave them the chance they deserve. 

After such a long time how have they not lost their touch one bit? Even more startlingly, how have they managed to actually improve on that magic in such a big way? Maybe that fire has been burning inside them for all these years, waiting to rise high once again when these remarkable musicians reunited. This time we can think ourselves lucky that we've been given another chance to experience their magic, and only hope that they don't desert us again. 9.5

Pre-order the album HERE.

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SONG FOR TODAY: Bell Gardens - Through The Rain

A superb new track that I can't seem to stop playing lately. It's by Bell Gardens and is taken from their brilliant upcoming album 'Full Sundown Assembly', out on Southern Records in September.

Bell Gardens is the love child of Kenneth James Gibson (Furry Things, [a]pendics.shuffle) and Brian McBride (Stars Of The Lid), conceived over many late nights talking and playing for each other the songs that have inspired them over the years. Citing influences such as Jack Nietzsche, Phil Spector, The Beach Boys and Dennis Wilson’s solo recordings, both musicians harboured a burning desire to traverse a pop sound that often belies their respective backgrounds in the fields of experimental electronic, techno and minimalist music.

“Through The Rain” is a perfect introduction to the lush world of sound that Bell Gardens have carefully crafted through the use of real instruments and classic recording techniques. It’s a bright, floaty burst of musical sunshine and sweet vocal harmonies, with a deeply embedded vein of mystery and wistfulness.

Two sides of a seven inch which won’t let you down, no matter what the weather. Grab a piece of Bell Gardens’ rainbow pie.

Order 'Through The Rain' Bell Gardens from Southern’s web shop HERE.

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Monday, 27 August 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Witness - Audition

Witness were a British alternative rock band formed in Wigan, Greater Manchester in 1997. The band released two albums via Island Records between 1999 and 2001, before splitting up in 2004.

In the late 90's, singer-songwriter, Gerard Starkie and guitarist Ray Chan set about writing and recording a number of 4-track demos together, which were mixed by their friend, Nick McCabe. Bassist Dylan Keeton became the next member to join the band which would eventually go on to become Witness. After securing a record deal with Island, they went on to add both drummer, John Langley, and guitarist, Julian Pransky-Poole to the line-up. Before settling on the name Witness, the band initially played a handful of gigs in nearby Manchester under the names Siren and High Mountain Jag in mid-1997. Witness' big break came in the same year, as they ventured down to London to watch The Verve support Oasis at Earl's Court in September 1997. Ray, a long-time friend of Nick McCabe's, met someone backstage at the gig who did press for The Verve (Tim Vigon). He passed on a recently recorded demo tape, and just a week later they had signed a three-album deal with Island Records. At this stage, Witness had yet to settle on a band name, and had yet to play a gig under the name "Witness", and, as such, their record contract simply referred to them as the "Wigan Band".

The initial press attention enjoyed by the band came as a result of Ray's friendship with Nick, and so, comparisons with The Verve were rife. In 1998, Witness managed to secure support slots on tour with Whiskeytown, The Seahorses and Gene, before going on to self-release their debut single, "Quarantine", through Valiant Recordings on 23 November. The following year the band's first release for Island came with their second single, "Scars", and their third single, "Audition" followed in June of the same year. Their debut album, 'Before The Calm' was released on 12 July 1999 to critical acclaim. Following Universal's takeover of Island Records, the band continued to pursue a new, Americana-tinged direction on their second album 'Under A Sun', released on 23 July 2001, as their record label's new parent company proved to be more accepting of the band's new material. Like its predecessor, 'Under A Sun' garnered a notable amount of critical attention, though not on the same, universal scale as that of their debut. In December 2001, Julian was asked to leave the band, for reasons unknown and by March 2002, in the midst of demoing what would have been their third album, it had been announced that Witness had been dropped by their record label. The band  returned to the studio to record an EP's worth of new material, slated for release in early-2003. In January 2003, a hometown gig was announced at Wigan's 'Mill At The Pier' for 5 April, set to promote the independent release of the planned EP. Yet, despite the gig being a sold-out success, the EP was never issued.

The band 'split up' in February 2004, but continued as 'Gerard Starkie' with the same personnel. The following year the band split properly when Ray left, moving to Hong Kong to teach English. Throughout 2005, Gerard continued to perform solo gigs, whilst August 2006 saw the self-release of his debut solo album, Drawbridge. In August 2008, it was announced that Gerard and Ray would reunite to play a one-off gig of Witness material in Hong Kong..."

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