Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Swervedriver to The Clash

Son Of Mustang Ford - Swervedriver
You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face) - Mudhoney
Search And Destroy - Iggy And The Stooges
Radio - Teenage Fanclub
The Wagon - Dinosaur Jr
Cherub Rock - Smashing Pumpkins
Prove It - Television
At Home He's A Tourist - Gang Of Four
Armalite Rifle - Gang Of Four
Where Were You - Mekons
Walk All Over You - AC/DC
In A Rut - Ruts
Holiday In Cambodia - Dead Kennedys
Seether - Veruca Salt
Suck - Wedding Present
Blue Eyes - Wedding Present
This Charming Man - Smiths
Reel Around The Fountain - Smiths
Cracked Actor - David Bowie
Safe European Home - Clash
Loose - Stooges
Rave Down - Swervedriver
Helter Skelter - Beatles
Summertime Blues - Who
I'm Not Down - Clash

There is an opinion that Walk All Over you is typical metal sexist shite, performed by trolls and bought by acrid armpitted adolescents who are “resting between girlfriends”. My opinion would be that it is a work of genius. It’s got a runaway train of a bass line and a slashing guitar sequence of 6 chords…..but relax, it’s only 2 chords in total. The best bit is the way Bon Scott’s voice goes up half through the “Wo….oagh “ bit of the “Wo….oagh baby I aint got much, resistance to your touch” (In itself a great metal lyric)

When Bon sings “Take off your high heels, Let down your hair, Paradise ain’t far from there” I’m a bit worried about his sense of direction. Is he heading north from the shoes or south from the hair? There’s a good Dave Lee Roth quote about his advice to contestants in a beauty contest, “lose the dress keep the shoes”. (I never really got the shoe thing. High heels don’t do much for me, they’re murder on my feet and anyway, I always preferred a woman to wear running shoes… to make certain that she’d catch me).

The guitar riff of In A Rut and Loose are both closely related (in an Deliverance/Appalachian way) but they’re both beautiful babies anyway. Lots of space between the guitar and rhythm. I love the sound of Cherub Rock as the guitar sound feels at once both monumentally loud, and unstoppable but also compressed. It’s one of those songs where I have never wondered what it means as any meaning cannot be greater than the power of the riff. Having said that though, for me personally, the song is most associated with ironing clothes on a night shift in a care home, which is when I first heard it. All songs cannot after all be linked with wide open spaces, primeval rage or skilful percy filth.

Indisputable fact number 1. The John Peel session version of This Charming Man (best found on either A Hatful Of Hollow or a muffled cassette) is better than the single version. It’s better because it’s bouncier. Reel Around The Fountain (again the session version is better, stripped down and rougher). At the time I loved it for it’s Taste Of Honey quotes and that great line “People said you were so easily lead, and they wee half right”. Soon after hearing it on Peel in the summer of 83 (with that session still in my head,) I went to see them at Blackburn, at a tiny upstairs club. Manchester to Blackburn on a Honda 70, in a yellow (maybe more of a honey colour) jumper and donkey jacket. They did play both This Charming Man and Reel Around The Fountain. The alternative people of Blackburn had turned out in with quiffs and loud shirts, but it was a restrained start to a career before the hysteria and devotion that later attached itself to the band and Morrissey. I saw them a few months later at the Hacienda at the height of the gladioli swinging season. They’d been on Top Of The Pops earlier, the gig was sold out, the audience keen. It felt like the confirmation of just how special this band were … and the rest of the world were just about to catch up. It was an accepted fact . Anyone you liked, liked the Smiths….and they’d only put out 2 singles. For a big swathe of NME reading, gig going Peel listeners they’d become instantly ubiquitous. I went to see loads of bands at the time and seemingly everyone I’d ever seen at any gig anywhere, was there. I remember the gig falling victim to the shocking acoustics of the majority of gigs at the Hacienda, Morrissey’s only words were “Hello you handsome devils”. The gig in the following year at the Free Trade Hall felt like a football match with the crowd chanting “Manchester”. Ironic really, because part of what Morrissey had sulked in his room about had now turned out to see him. What I remember most about that gig was the perversity because I’m sure they played Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now as the second song. At the time it was a new song…and it’s certainly no rabble rouser. I saw them twice in 85 at Stoke (How soon Is Now sounded particularly good) where Morrissey left the stage after someone threw a sausage at him and Birmingham Hippodrome at the end of last song Barbarism Begins At Home Marr threw his guitar across the stage and stormed off.

Summertime Blues is utterly preposterous. And utterly brilliant just for the way that the bass and guitars overhang each other on the Der Der Der der der der Der. By that I mean they’re overhanging each other like a particularly treacherous piece of rock. Just don’t stand under it and don’t try and climb it. Just give it a suitable name and walk on to the next ridge. And it’s a brontosaurus of a bass line.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Southern Soul

I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home - Ann Peebles
99 Lbs - Ann Peebles
Talk To Me - Al Green
He Made A Woman Out Of Me - Betty Lavette
It Hurts To Want It So Bad - Arthur Alexander
Anna (Go To Him) - Arthur Alexander
Piece Of My Heart - Betty Lavette
Mr. And Mrs. Untrue - Candi Staton
Evidence - Candi Staton
Divorce Decree - Doris Duke
Love Man - Otis Redding
Do Your Duty - Betty Lavette
Stealing Love - Eddie Floyd
She Don't Have To See You - Tommie Young
Pouring Water On A Drowning Man - James Carr
She'll Never Be Your Wife - Irma Thomas
To Love Somebody - James Carr
Sure As Sin - Laura Lee
Making The Best Of A Bad Situation - Millie Jackson
You Don't Miss Your Water - Otis Redding
It Tears Me Up - Percy Sledge
Look At The Girl - Otis Redding
Behind Closed Doors - Percy Sledge
You Brought It All On Yourself - Tommie Young
Down The Back Roads - Arthur Alexander

I always liked the cheatin’ lyin’ and slippin’ around style of Southern soul. You’ve got the great mixture of quality singers, natural sounding arrangements with those warm brass and keyboard sounds and then that country tradition wherethe song title is either a literary gem or a rancid pun. Either way it almost tells the story of the song all by itself. Look no further than Pouring Water On A Drowning Man, or She Don't Have To See You (to see through you).

The Ann Peebles songs not only show what she’s got planned in the home wrecking department but also how she’s going to do it. Would that be “99 pounds of “Pure Cane Sugar” then Madam? And does that work with 168 pounds of Guinness and crisps? In terms of the number of songs about it, Otis Redding was probably the undisputed King Of Love By Weight. He had not only Lovin’ By The Pound, A Ton Of Joy but also on Love Man he sang “Six foot 1, weigh 210, fine hair, pretty fair skin, long legged and outta sight, hey girl I’m gonna take you out”.
Solomon Burke’s quote takes the (packet of) biscuits. “There’s 375 pounds of me. You can have any 5 pounds you need, baby”

I saw Ann Peebles in about 1990 at Manchester International and Birmingham Hummingbird, the band were really good and kept an authentic soul sound. Her voice still sounded great and it was just impressive to hear someone who could really sing, without seeming to find it too hard. How can something that sounds so good look so easy?

The Candi Staton tracks have, Mr and Mrs Untrue booking into a motel and Evidence has her going through his pockets to find “There’s some other woman taking my place”

The Bee Gees still fill me with alarm, but they did write but To Love Somebody, which is just a supremely well-written song that hits that “nobody understands” spot perfectly. “There’s a light, a certain kind of light, that never shines on me”. It’s virtually a Morrissey lyric. My 2 favourite versions are the James Carr and The Flying Burrito Brothers. James Carr edges it though. His voice is just so full of resignation and utter misery and after the final line of each chorus “You don’t know what it’s like, You just don’t know what it’s like to love somebody, to love somebody, the way I love you”, there’s a 2 note keyboard whistle and the drums lead back in. And you know his pain is going to go on.

Look At That Girl is a bit of a throwaway Hang On Sloopy type song which sounds like nobody spent too long working on it, but there’s a great joyous feel to Otis’s vocal. And it’s good to look.

After all the heartache, adultery and lechery it’s a bit of a relief to get to Arthur Alexander’ s Down The Back Roads. It’s a beautiful Steve Cropper song, with a great guitar motif and warm electric piano. The song is a wistful getting away from it song, heading down the back roads, “Where the simple life is found, where I’ll lay my troubles down.” His vocals can sometimes sound a bit mannered and the arrangements and sound of his R and B hits (as covered by The Beatles and Stones) aren’t really to my taste, but he’s got one of my favourite male voices. His voice often carries the sound of real heartbreak. He had been early acid adopter, had mental health problems, and after being thoroughly skewered by the Music Industry he left it in disgust, only to die in 1993s (heart failure…how else should a Soul Man go?) on the brink of a comeback after the well received album Lonely Just Like Me.