The recent days I rediscovered Nikki Sudden’s second album The Bible Belt while I searched for another LP in my collection. I have to admit that I almost forgot this little gem from the early 80’s. After the Swell Maps disbanded Sudden forced his solo career with a different sound. When the Maps were a arty punk band he was now more or less a singer/songwriter but still with roots in the music of The New York Dolls, T. Rex and Dylan. This album is full of great songs showing Sudden’s abilities about writing songs. It is also the first collaboration with guitarist Dave Kusworth before the formed The Jacobites, a band that started to carry up the flag of British bands like The Faces – but this is another story to be told. Nikki Sudden had a big fan crowd over in Germany and I was lucky enough to see him several times before he died 14 years ago.
Nearly two week ago George from Jim McLean’s Rabbit posted a song by the Welsh Prog-Rock band Man. Because up to this time he knew nothing or only a little of this group I have promised more about this group to post. Here we go:
The band is based in South Wales and they played a very own mixture of West Coast psychedelia, Prog-Rock, Blues, Country and Pub-Rock. I feature them because the were an excellent live band and well known for the extended jams in their liver performances. You can read the whole story of this band here. I became aware on this group in the early 70s as Jörg Gülden in SOUNDS (one of the best music magazines at this time) swarmed about this group has. His euphoric criticism has made me to myself buy a record. And I was not disappointed. Only a few songs on each side showed the possibilities the band had. Based on a perfect and steady beat the guitars pushed the songs forward. Man were always a live-band and the best record for me is Maximum Darkness from 1975 featuring John Cipollina as special guest. He was the founder and famous lead guitarist from the West Coast band Quicksilver Messenger Service. He had his own style playing the guitar and this collaboration makes this record something special.
While I have written my series ’40 records in 40 years’ if I have bumped over and over again into the debut albums of artists that for me are unforgettable and also even today worth are to be heard (again). So I decided to start a new series about those records. Therefore, I will continue in irregular distances this series – unless, nobody would like to read this.
In 1979 Stiff Little Fingers a Belfast based punk-band release Inflammable Material – and the name was program. It stands in the classical tradition of the Clash, the Lurkers or the Ruts. The tracks are raw, however, partially a little bit haltingly produced, look by the teamwork of two guitars more full than some other album of this time. As with almost every classical punk group is the song material of a little bit different goodness: Classical single tracks with catchy tune quality like Suspect Device, Barbed Wire Love or Alternative Ulster”are mixed with rather average material. Their lyrics were mostly in the tradition of this time like ‘Here we are nowhere – nowhere left to go’. They got more politically in songs like White Noise when the sung about the hostility to foreigners in the UK or Alternative Ulster, stamped by her North-Irish descent. Of course they learned by The Clash to put a reggae song on your record. And they did it – the covered Bob Marley’s Johnny Was. However, differently than other punk bands they do not play reggae with the means of a punk group, no they take tempo out, adapt the title, however, to an almost classical rock song which is marked by the teamwork of both guitars. Not softly and melodically like with Wishbone Ash, but rough and roughly and with an irresistible drive. The intro is White Noise more than one minute to built up dynamic and it takes seven minutes more until they come to an end. It’s a monolith.
Chris Spedding is not the typical one that plays a real twanging guitar but he is one that could play it when necessary. Last Tuesday he celebrated his 70th birthday and I think that it is a good reason to pay some tribute in this way. He is one of these musicians who have become known not for own work, but for the support of other artists with her works. He is one of Britain’s most versatile session guitarists. Throughout his career he played nearly every style of rock & roll and some jazz as well. One of his first appearances as a session guitarist was on Jack Bruce’s first solo album Song for a tailor. His qualities are described best if you imagine with which musicians he has played and toured: John Cale, Roy Harper, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Tom Waits, Elton John, Nick Mason …. And don’t forget that he was a member of Mike Batt’s Wombles. He also produced the the first Sex Pistols demos. Although he reached the carts with Motor Bikin most of his other musical output missed the masses. Not that they are important in history of rock they are some pieces you ought to know if you are a bit into good guitar sound.
So listen and enjoy.
It looks thus as if Ghana my yesterday’s post has read. If I have still said yesterday that no African team has the possibilities to come to the final round, I must correct myself now. Watching the game between Ghana and Germany showed what can happen if a team is willing to fight and to run. It was maybe the best second half during the last couple of tournaments. I have seldom seen a game like this when both teams get rid of their tactical orders and just trying to win the game. After all I have to admit that Germany won one point and I am sure that Ghana is able to beat Portugal. But it’s different to tell which teams will reach the final round. It’s possible that Germany will be fruitless against the United States. Anyway, I’m looking forward to this game watching together with my American brother in law.
Today’s track is from the new album by Mac DeMarco released this year. He is a Canadian and plays a guitar-based music with much influence by early glam-rock, Ray Davis and Jonathan Richman.
Mac DeMarco – Blue Boy
As well as it looks the FIFA World Championship developed itself to an internationally reinforced Copa Sudamericana. Great and likeable teams had to home. Spain and England failed on team like Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica; teams from the African continent and the Asian participants don’t have the abilities to reach the final rounds. What has the rest of the participants still to muster to break the dominance the South and Central American? The Netherlands and France of course – and Italy and Germany as well. But it’s my opinion that the next champion will come from South America. Until then, let’s watch some great games like Switzerland against France last Friday.
Today song is by Metronomy and it’s from their new album released this spring. For me this album is one of the best and most interesting ones which were published this year. It is full of good ideas and good songs filled with references to the best of the last 40 years. Imagine a sound that combines 80s David Bowie with some West-Coast harmonies or some Doo-Wop. And sometimes you can hear The Smiths shimmering through the songs (Month of Sundays).
Metronomy – Love Letters
I remember very well the Sundays in the early 1970s. Mostly me and my father left home after lunch to watch the football game of our local team (often we supported our team as well on their away matches). When we came home round tea-time we used to watch TV. There was one series we both loved to watch. It was Softly, Softly (in German known as Task Force Police). It is a British television drama series showing us the work of regional police crime squads. The series took its name from the proverb ‘softly, softly, catchee monkey’, motto of Lancashire Constabulary Training School. What has impressed me in this series mostly, was her humanity and that it has acted of ‘normal’ people and their destinies. It not always had to be a murder and manslaughter which have tied up me. I remember very much with pleasure Superintendent Watts, to Barlow, to P.C. Snow, to Hawkins, also to the plump Welshman. Maybe this is the a reason that I am drawn to Britain. I was fascinated by the normal criminal offences, “real” investigating activity, real tempo, tone without constant din or music in the background. I can still remember well an episode in which it was about football hooligans. Till then it was completely unknown to me that there can be violence in the football. Even more astonishingly it was for me like the investigators the motives of these hooligans questions have. I would like to see this series again but I think it’s impossible because German TV deleted this series (I don’t know how this can happen) and a lot of series got lost by a fire at BBC.
When I started this series I didn’t thought that I will write so many contributions. Of course I could write about some bands that are real famous in Germany as well as these bands were popular throughout the New German Wave era. Nearly everything that was published by groups like Hubert Kah or Peter Schilling was garbage although millions have loved it. Other ones like BAP from Cologne stood for political correctness. While they sung their songs in in the Cologne dialect, the upraised forefinger has always been present. The whole hype annoyed me around this group and their singer Wolfgang Niedecken because everybody suddenly his opinion have represented and I it seemed to me already that there is a new Führer will uprise. But I have to admit that he did some good love songs when he was older and maybe wiser. Anyway, my intention was to feature some bands from my country that are worth to be listened or had a great influence and inspiration for todays music or just means a lot to a smart ass like me.
The band I will feature today is totally different from them. Kettcar was formed in 2001 by Marcus Wiebusch und Frank Tirado-Rosales. Both had their roots in a band that played hard punk music with political lyrics. called …But Alive. Their music could be described as indie-rock or guitar-pop. I have become attentive for the first time to Kettcar when they have published their first EP to the free download on her homepage. Since then I can’t get this song out of my mind:
Kettcar – Wäre Er Echt
Since then I followed them. With their second album they made their masterpiece. Von Spatzen und Tauben, Dächern und Händen (From sparrows and pigeons, roofs and hands – they mostly had that kind of weired titles for albums) was on my heavy rotation in 2005. The contents of the album are covered by the subject areas love, friendship, dreams, hope and everyday situations. The songs are often intimate and telling something about the struggle of life. That they act politically is shown on the oping song Deiche (dykes) with the words: Ein Volk steht wieder auf – na toll – bei Aldi brennt noch Licht / du weißt: Deiche brechen richtig – oder eben nicht (people get up again – fantastically – in Aldi light / still burns you know: Dykes properly break – or just not)
And as a bonus: One of their most popular songs in an unplugged version. Recorded in a small club in Hamburg – that’s why you hear the audience.
Kettcar – Landungsbrücken Raus
Enjoy and have a good weekend people.
As already is mentioned it is a tightrope walk if you write about bands from this times. One are already ascribed the punk or New Wave scene other are to be assigned unambiguously the pub rock scene. What is common, however, to all that they had their roots in the pubs where had to be played live. Todays artist Elvis Costello has definitely his roots in the pub rock scene. But he is also the link to the upcoming punk and new wave scene in Great Britain. There are many words written about him and his career, his collaboration with other great musicians and his affinity to the classic Country Music to bore you with more words. I would only like to say that he is an artist I follow over more than 25 years now. And there are so many songs I would like to post. But which one should I select? Shipbuilding with Chet Baker on trumpet? Something from his jazz influenced Almost Blue? Some of his mid/end 80s records? I decided to give you some songs you might know well. They are from his debut My Aim Is True. For me it is one of the best debut albums ever (I am thinking about a new series about debut albums that impressed me much). On this record he showed us what talent he has in writing songs and performing them. Sadly I didn’t see him live yet – but I’ve got a ticket for his concert in October this year. And I am looking forward to it.
These days The Robster wrote about what music means to him. I found so many words I can agree to. I seldom read a text about music and what it can mean which sums up a lot.For mor e than 40 years music accompanied me in different ways. Music makes me feel better when I am down, gives me the power to continue and inspires me to many things. It is not just one kind of music I like and I don’t stand too close to one kind of genre. Many of my friends still think in musical categories and are not ready to open their ears for new or another kind of music. When I started to follow some blogs a lot of you out there opened my ears for a very different kind of music and introduced me to some kind of music I didn’t know before. For example Dirk posted some gems which are fantastic and I only knew a few of them. That’s what I like – give me still more inspirations. There will be more music outside that should be worth to listen to. All in all: I can’t imagine a life without music. The final words I borrowed by The Robster (sorry) ‘You know what, my boy? You’ve actually had quite a lot of fun and some amazing experiences. Now stop moping and put some music on, you grumpy old bastard’.
Today’s song is from the superb new album by Hollie Cook, the daughter of the Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. She’s a very clear voice and the songs fit absolutely to a warm summer night sitting together with a few friends and a fine bottle of wine.
Hollie Cook – Twice