Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Mustt Mustt

Mustt Mustt.

When I got up this morning, I spent the first half an hour just staring out of the kitchen door at all the comings and goings. The blue tits seem to have definitely taken up lodgings in the bird box. They were flying to and fro with great beakfuls of nesting material. I will issue them with a rent book in due course! When I finally got motivated, I went for a walk up town because I didn’t set foot outside the house yesterday and I had run out of food. On the way back from the supermarket I had a look in the Sue Ryder shop. I was pleased to find two nice books. The first is called Kiss Me, Judas by Will Christopher Baer. It is a first USA edition from 1998. I had never heard of him before, but I bought it because it was only £1.00 and also it was signed. 

When I got home, I looked him up on Wikipedia and it says he is an American author of neo-noir fiction. He published a trilogy of novels in five years beginning with Kiss me, Judas and hasn’t published anything since. He has quite a cult following apparently. The book is about a detective called Phineas Poe who wakes up one morning to find that one of his kidneys has been removed and replaced with a bag of heroin. Crikey! If you look on eBay you will see that some people in the USA are asking up to £70 for a signed copy of this book. I wonder if I’m the only person in the UK with a signed copy? Anyway, I think it was a good find. The other book was a first UK edition of South And West by Joan Didion. I have heard of Joan Didion because I have another book by her called Slouching Towards Bethlehem. The book I found recounts her travels in Mississippi, Alabama & Louisiana in the 1970’s. In a review for The Guardian, Peter Conrad noted that Didion describes the South as "a metaphorical landscape, America’s heart of darkness"; "colonial, obsessed with disparities of “race, class, heritage”"; and its wilderness as "rank, malevolent, encroaching everywhere”. Anyway, it had to be worth a £1.00.

It is afternoon now and I am chilling out to an album that arrived a few days ago. It is called Mustt Mustt, by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. When I wrote my piece about the healing power of music a couple of weeks ago. I mentioned Sufi music and two of my friends whose views I respect made suggestions. Bent Sorenson recommended that I check out Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, so I did, and I ordered this CD. I must must! say I love it. It is the first Qawwali fusion album collaboration between singer Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and guitarist and producer Michael Brook, although the album is credited purely to Khan. It was Peter Gabriel who suggested that Brook and Khan work together. It was released in 1990 on Gabriel's Real-World Records label. It was recorded just down the road from here at Real World studios in Box.  As soon as I heard the opening title track, I liked it. It is very danceable which must be why it was remixed by Massive Attack and was a club hit in the United Kingdom, being the first song in Urdu to reach the British charts. It was later used in an advert for Coca-Cola.
Nasrat Fateh Ali Khan.

Many people consider this as a classic album. Mustt Mustt was voted one of the Top 100 albums of the 1990s by American music magazine Alternative Press. It reached #14 on the Billboard Top World Music Albums chart in 1991. David Lynch of The Austin Chronicle called the album a "seminal fusion". British musician Nitin Sawhney said that it "changed the face of British music forever". It is considered a "secularized" or "Western" version of Khan's other Qawwali albums. Thank you very much to Bent Sorenson because I am really pleased I discovered the music of Nasrat Fateh Ali Khan. Later in the week I’ll let you know what I think of Birds Requiem by Dhafer Youssef.
A message from Krishnamurti for March 20th.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Rainy Streets Of Bath.

Great Pulteney Street.

 The weather was a lot better yesterday so I thought I’d have a look around Bath for a couple of hours because it is such a great place and there is always something to see. Outside the abbey there was a lady busking and singing jazz. She was very good, and I listened for a couple of songs. When she finished What A Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong I threw some change in her bucket and she said, “Thank you very much”. She told me that this was the first time she had ever busked in her life. I asked if she knew any Van Morrison songs. She didn’t, but asked what song I was thinking of. “Well, Moondance is tailor made for you”, I replied. She promised to learn it for next time. I’ll look out for her next time I’m in Bath.

Then, as usual I looked in a couple of charity shops. I was pleased to find a very nice biography of Celine. No, not Celine Dion!,  this is the French writer Louis-Ferdinand Celine (1894-1961) His book Mort Au Credit (Death On The Instalment Plan) is one of my favourite novels. He was very influential on the likes of Henry Miller, Kurt Vonnegut and the Beat Generation. After that I got bored with charity shops. I had a look in the Victoria Art Gallery, but I got bored with that as well because I was there back in August with my good friend Rhonda Batchelor from Canada and I have seen it all before. They had something special on called The Sharmanka Travelling Circus, but you had to pay to see that which I wasn’t prepared to do.
The sky had turned dark and it was drizzling rain when I emerged from there. I crossed Pulteney Bridge and I thought I would have a look in the Holburne Museum which I could see in the distance. In all the years I have lived in this area I’d never been in there. It is a beautiful Georgian building and I’m glad I went in. There are some fabulous 18th & 19th century British paintings including works by the likes of Gainsborough, Stubbs & Turner. I ended up chatting to one of the staff for about half an hour. I should mention the gardens as well which are known as Sydney Gardens and are the only original 18th century pleasure gardens still surviving in Britain. They provided a favourite walk for Jane Austen when she lived in nearby Sydney Place and feature in her novel Northanger Abbey.

As well as their permanent collection there was also a special exhibition on by a contemporary British artist called George Shaw. I had never heard of him before but was very impressed. He was born in 1966 and brought up in the Tile Hill area of Coventry which features in a lot of his paintings. He is unusual in that his favourite medium is Humbrol enamel paints which are best known for painting model airplanes. The paintings are very detailed and on first glance could be mistaken for photographs. Urban decay and neglect seem to feature in many of the works. One work I was very taken with depicted an art-deco style pub that was built in the 1930’s to serve a local estate but now abandoned and derelict.
Sunrise Over The Care-home by George Shaw.

 Another work showed an English flag fluttering defiantly on a flag pole behind a high security fence which is obviously a statement about modern Britain. Some of the paintings do have that Edward Hopper feeling of loneliness and alienation. Some works also had a David Hockney type feel to them. I tried to take some photos, but the staff told me that I wasn’t allowed to for copyright reasons. That seems a bit silly to me because you can find his paintings quite easily on the internet. I didn’t argue with them because they were all volunteers and nice people. I had to content myself with buying a couple of postcards in the gift shop. It was gone 4.00 when I left and I scurried along the rainy wide pavements of Great Pulteney Street and headed for the station and that was the end of my afternoon in Bath.
Ash Wednesday 8.00am by George Shaw.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Beth Orton: Cheese & Grain, Frome, 14/3/2019

I went to see Beth Orton at the Cheese & Grain in Frome on Thursday. The concert wasn’t part of a tour, it was a one-off concert by Beth to celebrate International Women’s Day although it wasn’t actually on that day. The support act She Makes War had been taken ill so a young singer from Devizes called Tamsin Quin stepped in at short notice. She did very well with a very enjoyable set which included songs from her album Gypsy Blood. I was quite taken with one song in particular called Jennifer. During the interval I had a little chat with Tamsin and bought her album. I haven’t had a chance to play it yet, but I might write a review when I have time.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from Beth Orton because I hadn’t seen her before and I’m not an expert on her career by any means. I had heard her music described as Folktronica so I was kind of expecting guitars and electronic instruments. I think she must have moved on from being the ‘chill out queen’ because as it turned out it was just Beth and her guitar and her husband, guitarist and backing singer Sam Amidon. I also had a quick few words with Sam after the gig and he told me that he comes from Vermont in the USA and he has his own solo career as well as playing with Beth. He is also a great violin player as he demonstrated on one song.
Gypsy Blood by Tamsin Quin.

 When Beth came on stage, she said most of the songs would be from her album Central Reservation as it is 20 years since that album was released. That was unfortunate for me because I only have one Beth Orton album which is Trailer Park. I think I would have enjoyed the concert a lot more if I had been more familiar with her work. I did enjoy it though, even if I couldn’t make out all the lyrics. She has a very nice personality, very humorous and self-deprecating. When she sings though, the songs are very emotional, and heart felt. I made a few notes of some of the songs but because I don’t know the songs I expect I have made lots of mistakes. I recognised Someone’s Daughter because it is on Trailer Park. It is a great song. I also enjoyed Blood Red River, a very soulful song.
Sam Amidon.

Pass In Time is another very moving song. The lyrics mention, ‘My mother told me before she died’ so it may be a very personal song for Beth. Central Reservation is much more upbeat, as is Call Me The Breeze which is a simple very catchy song. “ This is a fuckin’ classic”, said Beth when she introduced Shopping Trolley from the Comfort Of Strangers album of 2005. Wave is from a recent album called Kidsticks. Concrete Sky is a great song which Beth informed us was on the Daybreaker album. The only other song I noted down was She Cries Your Name which was part of the encore and is my favourite song from Trailer Park.

While writing this so-called review I have been listening to the songs on YouTube and I must say it has made a rainy windy Saturday afternoon very enjoyable. I like Beth Orton more all the time and I’m very pleased that I made the effort to go and see her in Frome. Thank you very much to the Cheese & Grain for organising the concert. We are very lucky to have such a great venue in this area.

Beth Orton - Call me the Breeze

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Hal Blaine.

Brian Wilson & Hal Blaine.

I was very sorry to hear last night that Hal Blaine has passed away aged 90. Many people haven’t heard of Hal Blaine but he was one of the great unsung heroes of popular music. He was probably the greatest session drummer of all time. I got to hear of him through the work he did with my favourite band the Beach Boys. Hal played the drums on the Pet Sounds album which is arguably the best album ever made by a group. He played on Good Vibrations which is my favourite pop song of all time. He played on lots of other Beach Boys classic recordings. The Beach Boys regular drummer Dennis Wilson didn’t mind at all about this, in fact he was pleased because it gave Dennis more time for his hobbies of chasing girls, driving cars, surfing and getting stoned. Dennis admired Hal so much that he even asked him to play drums on his solo album Pacific Ocean Blue.

It was Phil Spector who first noticed how great Hal was when he played on the Ronettes song He’s A Rebel. He became a member of Spector’s house band who became known as The Wrecking Crew. Other notable members of this outfit were bass player Carole Kaye, guitar player Glen Campbell and keyboards player Leon Russell. Hal is thought to have played on 6,000 songs including some of the most famous pop records of all time such as Mr Tambourine Man by The Byrds, Strangers In The Night by Frank Sinatra, Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel, Eve Of Destruction by Barry McGuire, Dizzy by Tommy Roe, Cracklin’ Rose by Neil Diamond to name but a few. Hal played on 40 number one hit singles in the USA.

Brian Wilson played tribute to his good friend last night when he said, “I’m so sad, I don’t know what to say, Hal Blaine was such a great musician and friend that I can’t put it into words. Hal taught me a lot, and he had so much to do with our success – he was the greatest drummer ever. We also laughed an awful lot. Love, Brian.”

You can see a fabulous video below of Hal and Brian recording Good Vibrations together.

The Beach Boys Good Vibrations Rare Studio Recording Film Footage

Mustt Mustt

Mustt Mustt. When I got up this morning, I spent the first half an hour just staring out of the kitchen door at all the comings and go...