While I certainly am as corny as Kansas in August I am unlikely to be as high as a flag on the 4th of July, those days are over. Today, July 4th 2014, is loosehandlebars’ 2nd birthday. 265 posts, that’s one every 18 hours (oh yes it is !), each one carelessly nurtured then flung out to the furthest reaches of the Interwebs. When I started this thing I had no idea if anyone would find it & didn’t really care. I enjoyed writing about music & memories, enjoyed entertaining myself. That was enough & it still is. That people do come & say kind things about my things is very gratifying. A big shout out to the Glasgow massive, both noted playwright Danny McCahon & R&B legend David Ritchie have been most gracious & help to spread the word. Similarly, over in Derry, Joe Brown & his posse are as tight as this with the ‘handlebars. It was Raymond Gorman’s idea that I started to write & his support remains more staunch than anyone’s. Raymond has a fantastic CD in his car that no-one else has. The sooner all devotees of great guitar rock are able to buy a copy of “Anima Rising” by his group The Everlasting Yeah the better for all of us.
OK, here are 3 of the best records of 2014 so far. In the words of Shannon’s 1984 floor-filler…”Let The Music Play”.
This little beauty came out of nowhere in February of this year. It is a blast that there are still groups like The Twenty from Belfast who just want to make a straight ahead punk-inspired racket. This sparkling single is fine enough by itself but me & “You Can’t Be Lonely Forever” have history, good history. The song was written by my friend Paul Pj McCartney off of Bam Bam & the Calling, a band of post-punk audio terrorists who were lucky enough to have me roadie for them back in the goodle days. It is not for me to say that B.B. & the C. are a legendary band from Derry but I have heard others say just that & have never disagreed. Kudos to The Twenty for finding, reviving & doing absolutely the right thing by relying on the quality of the song & their own bright sound. The Twenty are ones to watch. If you are reading this Pablo then know this is a great tune. Are then any other stashed under your bed because we would like to hear them ?
The Twenty are the very thing for 2 fellow bloggers at Dave’s Strange World & Pop That Goes Crunch who have sent me nothing but quality music & writing since our paths have crossed. Long may it continue.
Bill Callahan has been around for a while now, as Smog since the 1988 cassettes, as B.C. since 2007. There have always been memorable songs. “Dress Sexy At My Funeral” is as bone-dry funny as the title while 1999’s “Cold Blooded Old Times”, a reflection on a long friendship, made not only the varied soundtrack of “High Fidelity” but my friend Mitchell’s all-time list & he has immaculate taste. On his last 2 LPs, “Apocalypse” (2011) & “Dream River” (2013) Bill really hit his stride, the sparse, spacey songs interspersed with distorted guitar, embellished with fiddle & flute. He is 48 now, his maturity brings to mind Raymond Carver’s exiguous short stories. Leonard Cohen is 80 this year. It’s time for a new generation who are getting older to embrace Bill Callahan.
“Have Fun With God” is to “Dream River” what “Garvey’s Ghost” is to “Marcus Garvey”, a dub re-imagining of a whole LP. It’s not King Tubby & a familiarity with the parent LP probably helps but it’s dreamy & my ears love listening to it.
Lastly but certainly not leastly it’s my favourite new British band the Skints & their killer single “The Cost Of Living Is Killing Me”. Back in January I featured Prince Fatty, a one man British reggae revival who is making some terrific music with old-school rock steady men like Little Roy, Dennis Alcapone & Winston Francis. There’s a touch of nostalgia about these tunes because that’s how the rhythm has always gone. The clean, bright production, the effervescence of great singers, pleased to be making records again is just dandy. Prince makes music with new artists too. His MC Horseman is all over it, the “vs Mungo’s Hi-Fi” dubs it up nicely & the charming Hollie Cook really should be a star. All of these people nice up the place, there’s no awkwardness, they all get it. So do East London’s, y’know, up Leyton/Walthamstow/South Woodford way, the Skints.
“The Cost of Living…” is from an EP (ask your Dad) made independently of the Prince but the unit is reunited for an upcoming 3rd LP. There is an argument to be made (but we won’t have it now) that the last truly great British #1 record was 1981’s “Ghost Town” by the Specials. This mix of ska-punk, rap & conscious lyrics brings that classic to mind. I really do hope that the Skints’ time will come because they have something to say that is worth listening to. Check for their Y-tube channel where their covers of reggae classics are just easy now.
This tune is for my lovely, new, funny American friend Gigi Mac who has written 2 vibrant posts for the blog which I have been so pleased to include. I hope that she will contribute regularly in the future. Loosehandlebars was always intended to be a broad church & there are other people I would like to include. Meantimes I am happy doing what I’m doing & I hope that it shows. It is still a gas to have so many people come visit. Even if they didn’t I would keep on keeping on because this is my little part of the Internet. I’m the King round here, I say what I like & I like what I say. Peace.