This Was ~ Jethro Tull

June 2, 2011

The name Jethro Tull  comes from an 18th century gardener/inventor and this new group that adopted his name had their roots in the progressive British Folk /Jazz /Blues boom of the late 60’s and the two main members who really spilt this band in two at this point were Scottish flutist and vocalist Ian Anderson and guitarist and singer Mick Abrahams who were joined on bass by the very capable Glenn Cornick and the very very capable Clive Bunker on drums to form the band in 1967.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

With both Anderson and Abrahams having strong ideas on the right direction for the group to go, by the time the groups first album release  ‘This Was’ appeared, Abrahams had departed their ranks to follow in a more blues direction with his new group Blodwyn Pig who released two great albums called ‘Ahead Ring Out ‘ and ‘ Getting To This  with Abrahams playing his cherry red Gibson SG and singing to great effect. I was lucky to see Blodwyn Pig at the Marquee Club in London and they played a great show with Andy Pyle’s bass going right through your chest if you were standing in the first ten rows which I was.

While Ian Anderson won the battle to move the band in a more folk rock direction with his on stage performance in a ragged beggar’s overcoat and ballet tights playing the flute on one leg while looking like he had just escaped from a local mental institution this image would propel Jethro Tull to being one of the biggest outfits in the 70’s rock world. New guitarist Martin Barre joined the ranks playing a Les Paul and this settled line~up never looked back making albums like ‘Aqualung ‘ and ‘ Thick As A Brick ‘               

 But for the moment let’s concentrate on this overlooked gem of an album ‘ This Was ” from 1968.

 Side One kicks off with the jazzy My Sunday Feeling written by Ian Anderson with him on lead vocals and flute and features a great solo from Mick Abrahams with the rest of the band right on the money! 2) Some Day the The Sun Won’t Shine a slow twelve bar blues with vocals by Abrahams and Anderson who also plays mouth organ. 3) Beggar’s Farm ~ like the Jethro Tull we all got to know with the jazzy flute to the fore and another great solo from Abrahams. 4) Move on Alone ~ a Mick Abrahams song with him on vocals and a brass section featured on this track. 5) Serenade for a Cuckoo ~ Instrumental ~ a Roland Kirk song which shows where Ian Anderson got his jazz influences on flute from. Nice playing all round.

Side Two starts off with Dharma For One another instrumental with a Clive Bunker drum solo. 2) It’s Breaking Me Up ~  another great twelve bar blues with great playing for Abrahams ~ very bluesy. 3) Cat Squirrel ~ This is the track that I think spilt the band in two. An instrument with features all the best points of Mick Abrahams playing. 4) A Song for Jeffrey ~ This was the single from the album and the start of the direction Anderson would lead the band in and a precursor to Living In The Past . 5) Round ~ A short jazz Brubeck idea.

 

On the Deluxe 2 CD Collector’s Edition  reissue of  ‘ This Was ‘ you will find excellent BBC sessions from Top Gear, John Peel Show plus Stereo and Mono mixes of the album with extra tracks like ‘ Love Story ‘ which  was the last song recorded by Mick Abrahams with the band and it’s my favourite, released as a 45 it featured Christmas Song on the B side which are both worth hearing for the mandolin playing alone as is ‘ Sunshine Day which was their first single released on MGM and credited to Jethro Toe, also ‘ One For John Gee’ who was the manager of the Marquee Club and was responsible for getting the band a residency at the club early on in their career.

Look out for Jethro Tull on the 40th Anniversary 2011 tour playing ‘ Aqualung ‘ in it’s entirety


Dedicated Follower of the Kinks

May 10, 2011

“The taxman’s taken all my dough and left me in my stately home lazing on a sunny afternoon ~ and I can’t sail my yacht he’s taken  everything I’ve got ~ all I’ve got is this sunny afternoon”. words written by Ray Davies of the Kinks.

We have two things in common with the lyrics above ! The taxman has recently taken all our dough and with summer fast approaching at least hopefully we will get some sunny afternoons!             

The Kinks record “All Day and All of the Night” was the first 45 that I bought and recently on TV they were showing an early episode of “Heartbeat” starring Nick Berry which played most of the Kinks first two records ‘You Really Got Me” and”All Day and All of the Night” and they sounded so good!  Like a runaway express train coming at you.

The original Kinks line up was : Ray Davies guitar & vocals and main songwriter, Brother Dave Davies supplying the  fierce guitar work, Mick Avory laying down the back beat and Peter Quaife on bass who sadly recently passed away.

The next Kinks record that I bought was the LP “Sunny Afternoon” in 1967 on the Marble Arch label which was the budget arm of Pye Records and features four hit singles and some brilliant Kinks B~sides and EP tracks, this record was jammed full of gems from the mid~sixties and complete with the greatest LP cover!   

Named after their current UK No. 1 hit 45 the album kicks off with “Sunny Afternoon”  which has the trade~ mark Ray Davies lyrics and is followed next  by I Need You” which is so good it would have been a hit in it’s own right ~ pure garage metal  rock.

 Next up was “See My Friends” which has a repeat hypnotic Indian feel to it and reached No. 10 in the UK charts followed by “Big Black Smoke” the B~side of  “Dead End Street” and really sums up the Fagin feeling of being poor in dirty of London which a lot of us can relate too!

The end song  of Side One is the classic “Louie Louie” written by Richard Berry and was a big hit for the Kingsmen in the USA in 1963 but this Kinks version would have made the charts as well. Pure rock n roll!

Side Two kicks off with “Dedicated Follower of Fashion” which is the Kinks at their best taking a swipe at the Carnaby fashion scene in London and drawing heavily from British music hall traditions in it’s mocking scornful lyrics! and reaching No. 5 in the UK.

They seek him here they seek him there his clothes are loud but never square!  Oh Yes he is!  

Next track is  Sittin’ On My Sofa  : B~ side of “Dedicated Follower of Fashion”  and  a great up beat song with great bass playing from Pete Quaife.  

Next up is  Such A Shame : Appears on the B~side of the US 45 “Well Respected Man’ and again  has great RayDavies lyric and melody.

Track 4 is one of my Kinks favourites “I’m Not Like Everybody Else”  B side of  “Sunny Afternoon” which features brother Dave Davies on vocals and what a great job he does as well!

Also Dave Davies had a number of hits in his own right including “Lincoln County” “Susannah’s Still Alive” and probably the most famous “Death of a Clown“. Great to hear if you haven’t already!

Last song on the album is “Dead End Street” which reached No. 5 on the UK chart and is very popular with people who live in a Cul~De~ Sac’s but the rest of us like it because like so many Ray Davies songs it speaks of the Englishness of the upper and working classes.                                                                                                                                         

I like my football on Saturdays ~ Roast beef on Sundays ~ It’s all right!  

I go to Blackpool for my holidays ~ sit in the open sunlight      


Ian Dury and the Blockheads

March 3, 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

One of Britain’s most loved characters from the 70’s punk scene was the likable rogue Ian Dury. Despite being handicapped at an early age with polio, he would go on to give us a string of clever music hall/punk/disco hits which would become part of our everyday language. He coined the now familiar phrases “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll” and was writing great songs right up until his death in 2000 and never complained.

A warm-hearted witty geezer, this guy was the real deal, no pop star make~up needed here! Ian was a barrow boy straight out of Romford market!

Signing to the brilliant London label Stiff Records and releasing New Boots & Panties in 1977, Ian with his Dickens street~urchin image along with the best jazz/funk band in London the Blockheads was to become one of the hottest acts on the live circuit during the early punk years.

Although Ian looked like he had just escaped from a local mental home the night before, he had a lovable if demonic warped sense of humour and was in his mid ~thirties when he hit the big time unexpectedly!

In his teens he attended the Royal College of Art in London before forming the band Kilburn & The High Roads who released their one and only album on Dawn Records in 1975 called ‘Handsome’. The album is well worth finding, but it was in Chas Jankel that Ian was to find a songwriter that would lead him in the right direction to forming the Blockheads.

Hello! I’m from Essex

Every song from  their first album New Boots & Panties is a classic! and listening to some of the lyrics you know that Ian was one of the boys who put the sex in Essex! even though he was originally born in Middlesex, still tracks like ‘Billiericay Dickie’ and  ‘Plastow Patricia’ conjure up life in the urban sprawl of the Essex towns east of  Mile End station on the London underground’s District  line.

Maybe Ian is one of the most important poets that England has produced in the last 40 years with lines like I could be the ticket collector at Fulham Broadway station” and “In the deserts of Sudan and the gardens of Japan from Milan to Yucatan every woman every man“. Now stick that on your ringtones!

Ian had a string of hits singles with ‘Rhythn Stick’  ‘What A Waste’ , ‘Reasons To Be Cheerful’  and ‘I Wanna Be Straight’ but it was the spirited song ‘Spasticus Autisticus‘ released from the Polydor album ‘ Lord Upminster’ which should have been his biggest hit!. Written by Ian for the Year of the Disabled this was a war cry from Ian to all the disabled people in the world but the single was misunderstood and was banned by the BBC and received very little publicity or air~play and is an absolute gem with Sly & Robbie supplying the bass and drums on the record.

Ian’s last album ‘Mr. Love Pants’ released in 1998 and was a real return to form with the Blockheads providing the backing after some indifferent Dury releases but overall all of Ian’s seven albums are worth exploring and if you don’t explore Ian Dury’s work you will never know what a rhythm stick is!

Mind the Gap!


An Overlooked British Guitarist

January 2, 2011

 Vini Reilly~The Durutti Column

One of Britain’s most underrated guitarists Vini Reilly is probably a name you have never heard of but you have probably heard his playing on various records and tv commercials.

Red Hot Chili Pepper guitarist John Frusciante rates Vini as the best in the world and he would be in my top five.

When you listen to Vini play it is like a classical religious experience all rolled into one which leaves you trying to figure out what you have just heard and even better you want to hear it again. Very relaxing it takes you out of yourself. A very clean sound.

One of the things I love about his recordings are the vocal sampling of great vocalist like Tracy Chapman, Annie Lennox, soul singer Otis Redding and opera singer Joan Sutherland.

Bizzare but it works! and then you have Vini a virtuoso player on electric and acoustic guitars. Vini also sings in his own unique style. If you’re looking for something different and out of the box this is the boy for you! 

The Durutti Column named after the Spanish Civil War anarchist movement and has basically always been Vini and guest drummers and musicians. This guy has an impeccalbe technic which reminds me of the Shadows guitarist Hank Marvin in a funny way!

Born in Manchester in 1953, Vini is a delicate boy and has been recording since 1977 the punk years which introduced so many great musicians and signed to Factory Records in 1978 by Tony Wilson who allowed him to develop his own style.

His first band was the classic punk named Ed Banger & The Nosebleeds. Recording the debut Sandpaper sleeved album ‘The Return of the Durutti Column” in 1979 with long time collaborator Bruce Mitchell on drums who is now 70 this is probably my favourite album. With it’s sandpaper sleeve it  would rub up against the other LPs in your collection and damage their sleeves, another way for Vini to separate himself from the rest.

The group has released to this point 2010 a staggering 29 albums and each has reached cult status to a growing number of loyal fans worldwide.In 1988 Vini joined Morrissey on his solo album “Viva Hate” playing some excellent guitar, but declined being involved with Morrissey’s  follow-up album preferring to follow his own experimental path.

In America, Vini’s work was used on TV commericals for Pacific Bell TV in California. In September 2010 Vini suffered a minor stroke, please join me in wishing him a speedy recovery and all the very best fot the future.

A mighty talent. Check him out!

Beatmerchant Recommended


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