Monday, 24 September 2012

BLOG NEWS: 24/09/2012

Apologies to my regular readers and everybody else who enjoys this music blog, but for the next few days I probably won't be posting anything. I hope to return when I've made some sense of a current situation, a situation which has made it impossible to focus on anything else. Don't forget me.
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Sunday, 23 September 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Tom Jones - Burning Hell

As someone who hardly watches any telly these days due to the amount of crap they show, BBC Four's Friday night music programming is a welcome treat. The other night they showed a fascinating documentary on the life and career of Sir Tom Jones, a man who I had previously considered to be a bit of a joke. However this brilliant documentary has made me see Tom in a completely different light and see past the novelty pop hits of his early days. Following this film they showed Sir Tom playing a session of folk, blues and beyond from LSO St Lukes in the City, along with some great guests and a fantastic trio of backing singers. You can watch this on the BBC iPlayer for the next few days HERE. It seems that Tom has gone back to his roots, delving into the blues for his most recent two albums.

'Burning Hell' is taken from his excellent 2010 album 'Praise And Blame', and was originally written by Sister Rosetta Tharpe. "'Praise and Blame' is the 39th studio album by Tom Jones, released 26 July 2010. 

The album was Jones’ first release with Island Records and was recorded in 2009 at the Real World Studios in England. Produced by Ethan Johns, Praise & Blame was made up of largely little known devotional and gospel covers, marking a departure from the pop-orientated style that had dominated Jones' recent recordings.

In an interview with HitQuarters, Island A and R, Louis Bloom, talked about how the concept for the album first came together: "I saw Tom on the Jonathan Ross show a couple of years ago and he had stopped dying his hair – he looked great! I’ve always been a massive fan of his voice but in recent years he had been doing the musical equivalent of dying his hair in trying to make modern records that just felt too forced and missed the mark. I tracked down his management and coincidentally they were also thinking they wanted to make more of a classic rootsy record."

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PREVIEW: Muse - The 2nd Law

Muse have revealed the tracklisting and artwork for their new album 'The 2nd Law'. 

UPDATE: Listen to the album HERE.

The album - which will be released on October 1 in the UK and on October 2 in the US  - contains a total of 13 tracks'. 'The 2nd Law' is the follow-up to 2009's 'The Resistance' and has been recorded in London. You can watch the videos for 'Madness', 'Unsustainable', 'Survival' and a live version of 'Panic Station' at the bottom of the page. 

Speaking previously about the record, the band have promised that it will be "very diverse", with frontman Matt Bellamy saying: "We've tried a bunch of new things, which the trailer gives a glimpse of. There's only one song that's like that. We've basically tried to do what Rage Against The Machine did with hip-hop in the 1990s and take a bit of the electronic world and dubstep and play it with real instruments. There's only one track like that, the rest of it is very very diverse."

The Devon trio will tour the UK in October, playing five shows. The gigs begin at Glasgow's SECC on October 24, before the band move onto London's O2 Arena for two shows on October 26 and 27. They then play Birmingham LG Arena on October 30 before finishing up at Manchester Arena on November 1.

The tracklisting for 'The 2nd Law' is as follows:

'Panic Station'
'Follow Me'
'Big Freeze'
'Save Me'
'Liquid State'
'The 2nd Law: Unsustainable'
'The 2nd Law: Isolated System'

Saturday, 22 September 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Dick Dale and His Del-Tones - Misirlou

Of course, most people know this as the theme tune from Tarantino's classic Pulp Fiction. I became obsessed with this track after buying a copy of FilmFour's 'Essential Soundtracks' compilation in the very early 2000's, possibly late 90's. "'Misirlou' is a folk song dating back to 1927, originally as a Greek rebetiko composition influenced by Middle Eastern music. The song then gained popularity among Middle Eastern audiences through Arabic (belly dancing), Jewish (klezmer) and Turkish versions. 

The song eventually gained worldwide popularity through Dick Dale's 1962 American surf rock version, which was responsible for popularizing the song in Western popular culture. 

Dick Dale (born Richard Anthony Monsour on May 4, 1937) is an American surf rock guitarist, known as The King of the Surf Guitar. He pioneered the surf music style, drawing on Eastern musical scales and experimenting with reverberation. He worked closely with Fender to produce custom made amplifiers, including the first-ever 100-watt guitar amplifier. 

He pushed the limits of electric amplification technology, helping to develop new equipment that was capable of producing distorted, "thick, clearly defined tones" at "previously undreamed-of volumes." The "breakneck speed of his single-note staccato picking technique" as well as his showmanship with the guitar is considered a precursor to heavy metal music, influencing guitarists such as Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen..."

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NEWS: Reunited Beach Boys to split after tour

The reunion of The Beach Boys looks to be short lived as Mike Love has announced he and Bruce Johnston are to leave Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks after the current 50th anniversary tour comes to an end. Love and Johnston will then cash in on the recent reunion of the proper band by touring with their third-rate cabaret version of "The Beach Boys".

A press statement reads: "As The Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion Tour enters its last week culminating in its final shows at London’s Royal Albert Hall on September 27 and Wembley Arena on September 28, Mike Love and Bruce Johnston will be keeping The Beach Boys’ music in front of live audiences by touring in the configuration that they have been touring in for 14 of the last 50 years. The post 50th anniversary configuration will not include Brian Wilson, Al Jardine and David Marks. The 50th Reunion Tour was designed to be a set tour with a beginning and an end to mark a special 50-year milestone for the band.  

“As we move on, Bruce and I look forward to performing live for Beach Boys fans everywhere,” says Mike Love.

Several North American dates in October have already gone on sale and concert dates will continue to be announced for The Beach Boys which include Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Mike Love and Bruce Johnston supported musically and vocally by Christian Love, Randell Kirsch, Tim Bonhomme, John Cowsill and Scott Totten, who serves as musical director. It is in this configuration that The Beach Boys have been bringing the legacy of their music and the American lifestyle, with which they have become synonymous, since 1998 when Carl Wilson passed.  For 50 years Love has lead The Beach Boys live on stage breaking Guinness Book of World Record numbers for attendance and touring along the way.  The Endless Summer will continue for fans everywhere who want to see The Beach Boys live."

A blindsided Wilson said, "I'm disappointed and can't understand why he (Love) doesn't want to tour with Al, David and me. We are out here having so much fun. After all, we are the real Beach Boys."

The writer of the Facebook Beach Boys/Brian Wilson fan page reckons this is Mike Love's way of trying to his own way... "Mike has always been all about the money.  It's difficult to imagine his truly not wanting to continue touring with all five longtime band members, at least for a while.  He doesn't want to continue playing large arenas and receiving the adulation people around the world have showered on the full band?  He doesn't want to rake in more bucks, just until Brian decides he is no longer up to touring?  I believe he does.  I think Mike's press release was a power play and a negotiation tactic, to put the idea of the entire group's continuing to tour on the table--officially, publicly, legally, and with notice of his continuing control of all things "Beach Boys."

Think about this: Why did Mike issue that press release when he did?  He had not just scheduled the dates; that was done months ago.  The tour isn't over; they still have the London concerts to go.  So why then?  Why in conjunction with the Grammy Museum appearance?  Because the Grammy event got them some press, ensuring that the release would be publicized; and because the reunion tour is not over, so there still is time for negotiation.

I believe Mike's press release, as intended, resulted in many legal and financial wheels beginning to turn.  I think Brian and Melinda, Al, David, and a gang of attorneys, all talked about this the following morning.  I think we'll hear more about it, possibly an announcement from London.  Will the entire band go on?  It depends on the negotiations: who demands what, who agrees to what, and, above all, that Mike gets as big a piece of the pie as he wants.  If Brian, Al and Dave are having enough fun to want to continue, and if they can agree to Mike's terms...we may get to see them again in concert!  The show I attended was one of the best I've ever seen, and I would buy another ticket in a heartbeat. Here's wishing Good Vibrations on the negotiations..."

Let's hope that he's right. I would love to see the real Beach Boys live just once, and a Mike Love-led version of the group with no Brian would just be a very poor substitute. But if he does indeed ditch the rest of the group to fuel his ego and make money off of Brian's superior talents, then I for one won't have any interest in seeing them live...

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Friday, 21 September 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Dirt Devils - The Drill (Evacuation Mix)

It's not often that I feature "club bangers" as the Song For Today, but this floorfiller is too good not to include. Like a few S.F.T.s, I was introduced to this track by my Facebook pal Bill, who (like myself) posts a daily song on his profile. Again, nice one Sir! 

Dirt Devils is the name Jonathan David Grant & Paavo Olavi Siljamäki from Above & Beyond use as their alias for their harder trance productions. 'The Drill' was originally released in 2002 on NuLife Recordings.

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Thursday, 20 September 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: Inch Ft Mark E Smith - Inch

Only a small number of people have featured in Song For Today more than once. The rules I have set myself mean that the same band or artist cannot appear twice, however if an artist who has already been featured has been a member of another band, or collaborated with an artist not yet featured, then I make exceptions. Of course The Fall were featured as Song For Today a while back, and now the band's legendary leader Mark E Smith makes his second appearance as part of a collaboration with Inch... This song was released as part of the 'The Inch EP' on Regal Recordings in 1999. 

The music blog Pee Pee Soaked Heck Hole reveals some info about the track... "Kier Stewart was a guitarist and studio engineer in Manchester who, with his studio partner Simon Spencer, worked with Fall leader Mark E. Smith on a one-off track called "Plug Myself In" in 1996 (the two billed themselves as DOSE - and BTW, the track can be found on my earlier Fall posting, A World Bewitched). The track was pretty well received, and Stewart and Spencer were eager to produce The Fall's next album (which eventually became 1997's Levitate). When guitarist Adrian Flanagan (a short-term fill-in for the recently departed Brix Smith, on her second and last go-round with the band) left the group in early 1997, Stewart was offered the slot and a chance to join the band. He initially refused, but Spencer talked him into it, thinking that it might lead to their being tapped as producers - which they were (sort of).

The band began recording in West Hempstead, but the sessions did not go well, mainly due to Smith undergoing personal problems that made him extremely paranoid, to the point where he'd sometimes refuse to do any vocals. Coupled with this was Smith's refusal/delay in signing a producer's agreement with Stewart and Spencer, and ongoing lack of payment. The two finally got fed up and quit the sessions as both producers and musicians; they even went so far as to wipe the tapes of the little that had been recorded up to that point. And they decided to play one last practical joke on Smith: during the sessions, Stewart and Spencer had recorded a track with Smith, "Inch", as a side project apart from what The Fall was doing. After their departure from the Fall sessions, they carefully packaged up the single and shipped it out to John Peel and various major record companies, along with a letter claiming to be from Mark E. Smith, but full of un-Smith like language along the lines of "Golly gee - we really made a super cool record! Have a listen!"

Smith arrived home to find his answering machine full of messages from recording companies, asking about the "new record" that he didn't know existed. While Smith remained confused, Spencer and Stewart got a deal for the track with EMI themselves, only later bringing Smith in to work out the final details. A version of this song, titled "4 1/2 Inch", made it onto 'Levitate'..."

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LISTEN TO: Band Of Horses - Mirage Rock

'Mirage Rock' is the fourth studio album by Band of Horses, released earlier this week on September 18th 2012. Scroll down to hear the album in full via the embedded media player...

1. Knock Knock
2. How To Live
3. Slow Cruel Hands of Time
4. A Little Biblical
5. Shut-In Tourist
6. Dumpster World
7. Electric Music
8. Everything's Gonna Be Undone
9. Feud
10. Long Vows
11. Heartbreak On the 101

The Amazon page for the album says: "The follow-up to 2010's Grammy-nominated Infinite Arms, Mirage Rock is the first Band of Horses record to be produced by Glyn Johns, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year in recognition of his work with The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Faces, Eric Clapton and too many others to list. Recorded at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, Mirage Rock is arguably Band of Horses' most cohesive and accomplished set of compositions and performances to date."

Mirage Rock by bandofhorses 
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Wednesday, 19 September 2012

SONG FOR TODAY: The KLF - Last Train to Trancentral (Live from the Lost Continent)

"Last Train to Trancentral" is a song released, in different mixes, as a series of singles by The KLF, including "Last Train to Trancentral (Live from the Lost Continent)", a commercially successful single of April 1991 that reached # 2 in the UK Singles Chart and achieved international top ten placings. "Last Train to Trancentral" is a central song within The KLF's work, and is distinctive for an uplifting string-orchestrated break. "Last Train to Trancentral" is related to The KLF's unreleased earlier tracks "E-Train to Trancentral" and, from the 1989 soundtrack to their film The White Room, "Go to Sleep". 

Both the film and the soundtrack were abandoned in 1989, due to spiralling costs and the commercial failure of the soundtrack single "Kylie Said to Jason". However, much of the musical material was salvaged and substantially remodelled to form the basis of their later, commercially successful work. In particular, bootlegged copies of "Go to Sleep" reveal many chord sequences and melodies later used in "Last Train to Trancentral".

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