Random Notes (February 2017)

OK, while we wait for the release, in early March, of “English Tapas”, the new LP by Sleaford Mods, February brought new records by two old favorites. Y’know, I possibly have enough music by Ryan Adams & Son Volt. From what I’ve heard, their current collections are not better than the stuff I already own. There’s the return of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah with only one surviving member of the group that made the notable debut in, (is this right ?) 2005. I’m more interested in “Backlash”, Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears always had more going for them than Soul revivalism & the first record for 4 years will receive further investigation. Australian psych-gang King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard have plans for 5 LPs this year, perhaps the fine “Flying Microtonal Banana” will not be the best of them. So, here’s a crazy video for a track from my favoured album this month.

 

 

 

 

Image result for moon duo“Occult Architecture Vol 1” is the fourth LP by Moon Duo, the offshoot of San Francisco space-rockers Wooden Shjips. Guitarist Ripley Johnson’s hook up with keyboard player Sanae Yamada is proving to be more prolific than the mothershjip. The lo-fi, drone heavy sound of 2010’s “Escape” has developed into something that places them at the forefront of 21st century psychedelia. The signifiers are still there, the motorik steadiness, synthesized shades of Alan Vega, even Hawkwind’s guitar barrage (blimey !). For all the cosmic cacophony there are tunes with hooks while more than a hint of the Garage about Moon Duo adds a power & drive that draws you in & carries you along to the relentless 10 minute closer “White Rose”. The video for “Cold Fear”, by Micah Buzan, is a strange & imaginative thing. Please don’t stare at the screen for too long if you are of a nervous disposition.

 

 

Image result for minneapolis uranium club who made the manThe single of the month is “Who Made the Man” by the Minneapolis Uranium Club. It was released in October 2016 but, as I have stated before, this new music can take some time to get through to me. Now I’m no expert on hi-octane modern punk but I know a young person who is & he spent some of his student loan on this 7″ disc (Emmet ! You did what !). Further investigation has shown that there are similar groups who intend to have similar fun, fun, fun, until their daddies take their Devo albums away. I have also heard the Dead Kennedys & the Fall invoked, with a touch of Fred Schneider off of the B-52s in the vocals. This is all good. The other track, “Small Fry”, shorter & very 1977, is included in the clip & the LP “All of Them Naturals” will certainly be on the “to investigate” list.

 

 

OK, enough of this new-fangled noise. My album of the month is 1974’s “I’ve Got My Own Album to Do” by Ronnie Wood. Back then Ronnie was doing very well thank you after a spell as bassist in the Jeff Beck Group & as guitarist in Faces, a band popular enough to tour the world in their own right but increasingly in the shadow of the solo success of their singer Rod Stewart. Original Face Ronnie Lane had already left the group & Ronnie W could hear the way the wind was whistling (1973’s “Ooh La La” became their final LP). He lived in a very nice part of West London, Richmond, near the park, in a well-appointed gaff, The Wick, overlooking the Thames, which he had bought from actor Sir John Mills. The basement became a studio/man-cave & he invited Rolling Stone Mick Taylor over to help with that album that he had to do.

 

Image result for i've got my own album to doThe Wick had a coach house in the garden (very nice) & Keith Richards off of the Rolling Stones, at a loose end with no touring for his band that year, came over & stayed to help things along &, quite possibly, have a real good time. More of Ronnie’s heavy friends appeared. Track 1, the joyous, loping, funky “I Can Feel the Fire” has that Mick Jagger (& David Bowie) on backing vocals while the next one up, “Far East Man” is a collaboration with George Harrison. Jagger/Richards (maybe just the latter) gave Ronnie 2 songs, “Sure the One You Need” is good enough for them to have possibly regretted it. “Mystifies Me”, a great original soul ballad, reunites the unit which made Rod’s “Every Picture Tells a Story” such a stand out. The rest of the album features the American rhythm section, Andy Newmark (drums) & Willie Weeks (bass) who were as good as it got back then. There are 2 Soul covers included, Freddie Scott’s “Am I Grooving You”, a classic produced & co-written by Bert Berns, & Freddie & the Dreamers’, no, make that James Ray’s, “If You Gotta Make a Fool of Somebody”.

 

 

Image result for ronnie wood keith richards kilburnTo promote this all-star album, there was not always room in the basement for everyone who showed out, Ronnie played 2 shows in July 1974 at the Kilburn State in North London. Along with Ronnie, Keef, Weeks & Newmark are Faces Ian McLagan (organ) & Rod Stewart (backing vocals). Now “I’ve Got…” is a terrific record, a super session where egos were left at the studio door, but the superb live show (see it here) is, for anyone interested in British music of the time, Rock & Roll Heaven. Mick Taylor, who played on 5 tracks on the LP is not around & by the end of the year had quit his day job with the Stones. There was a prolonged search for a replacement but Ronnie, who released another LP in 1975, helped out on a Stones tour before joining permanently, sure was the one they needed.

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Joe Brown Puts You Right (His Best of 2015)

Joe Brown, bass player of the Gatefolds, is the OG (Original Guest) contributor to loosehandlebars. We were friends from way back when, reconnected by the wonders of the electronic age.  This year I was able to take up an invitation for a Friday night round the Browns’ place & the time passed since we had last met meant nothing. When Joe talks about music & many other things it’s good to listen.
“Sometimes I Sit & Think, Sometimes I Just Sit” is a great title for a record & “Elevator Operator” a top notch opening track. Melbourne singer/songwriter/guitarist  Courtney Barnett took her time before releasing her fine debut LP. She’s spent time in a grunge band & made some psych-country (sounds good). Her own songs are sung with sweet vocals & contain sharp, smart lyrics . Musically  there’s a drive & focus that brings a fresh energy to punchy guitar rock. Check “Dead Fox” with its take on the Velvet’s “Rock & Roll” riff. Courtney Barnett, one to listen to & to watch out for.
(If the editor may interrupt, it has been a good year for the Melbourne music scene. Dick Diver’s LP “Melbourne Florida” has a post-punk feel that checks for some good bands & brings to mind the early Go-Betweens. “Waste the Alphabet” is a top track of 2015.)
Next up has to be Moon Duo & the ” Shadow of the Sun” LP. “Slow Down Low” was the feelgood hit of the summer, an anthem for some of us in Derry. What started as a Ripley Johnson side project is 5 albums along, has a real drummer & has got it going on. We got to see them earlier in the year at a psychedelic arts/music festival about 20 miles outta town, a great night where we teamed up with some friends from the past, Bernard Griffin and Mickey Rooney who was our driver for the night. He kindly volunteered & will remember more of the journey home than I will though hopefully not everything ! Now we have to see Wooden Shjips, the psych-drone mothershjip that Moon Duo call home.
  No apologies for selecting the Nottingham duo Sleaford Mods..the Marmitemen (seems you either love ’em or hate ’em). The voice of some of the people. There’s a place for Manic Expression. It’s not always on the High St, outside the charity shops, the betting shops & that place that used to be Woolworth’s. Like Mark E Smith & John Cooper Clarke before him Jason Williamson’s rants hit the nail on the head about some stuff that needs to be said. “Key Markets” is their 8th LP, the beats go on. Who knows what shelf life is in these lads. That bloke shouting as security escorts him from the Jobcentre makes some sense but if he’s there every time…A couple of years ago my friend Kevin  Magee promoted a Mods’ gig which was missed by Derry’s entire population minus eight. If there is to be a next time then I’ll be one of the Jolly Fuckers down the front.
Thanks Joe. There will be more to follow about the man & his music in my own highlights of the year. Personally I can’t wait.

Joe Brown Picks The Hits (Three From 2012)

For the first time loosehandlebars welcomes a new Selector to punch up the tunes. Joe Brown is the bass player with Bam Bam & the Calling, legends of the Derry music scene.

 He is partner of the lovely Gayle, father of 3 three teenage boys and the owner of, I think, several Hank Williams tee-shirts. That or he has just the one and he wears it all the time. I know that we are in safe hands because throughout 2012 Joe has been sending me new and old music of a spectacular quality. OK some of it has been German blokes from the 1970s who have fallen asleep at their keyboards but the rest of it has been brilliant. This is Joe Brown’s pick of the best new music he has heard this year.

“The Bravest Man In The Universe” is the title track from the Only Survivor/The Poet, Bobby Womack’s first LP for 12 years (and that was a Xmas record). Bobby wrote the first #1 for the Rolling Stones, hits for Wilson Pickett and was with Sly Stone for the creation of “There’s A Riot Goin’ On”. In the 1970s & 1980s there were times when his music touched new heights. He is a true Soul Great. He has been Across 110th Street a few too many times & has been suffering from cancer.

 “Bad as I been, I can sing my ass off, better than I could before”. Womack has always had an ear on how music is changing,Richard Russell and Damon Albarn have produced a merger of  the classic and the present. To hear Bobby in such good form on this atmospheric and beautiful song is just a treat. He is clear of his illness now so let’s hope that there is more good stuff to come. “The bravest man in the universe is the one who has forgiven first”…Hell Yeah !

“Aw just like Sister Ray said”…in space…turn it up… let the psyche-boogie free your mind (& your ass will follow). Moon Duo is a side project of San Franciscan psychedelicists Wooden Ships. Guitarist Ripley Johnson and accomplice  keyboardist Sanae Yamada recorded the LP “Circles” in the USA and mixed it in Berlin. Appropriate enough as they take their cues from the Velvet Underground and Suicide and add more than a pinch of the louder old German groups like Guru Guru. (Take my word for it, if you are too young to know these bands they are pretty damn good starting points).

Let “I Been Gone”‘s rumbling soundscape fill the room and it will pummel any resistance. Moon Duo are doing this thing better than anyone else this year. The only criticism is that the tune is not 10 minutes longer !

I have to interject here and state that my friend Joe Brown in no way recommends the use of recreational hallucinogenic stimulants as an enhancement to your musical pleasure. (Maybe he does, but not on my blog Sunny Joe). He does though, love a bit of flanging and distortion. He would only agree to that one way ticket to a desert island if he could take along “Nuggets”, the collection of acid/garage/psych classics. So, obviously, Tame Impala tweaks his nipples…mine too.

Any psychedelic record, and “Lonerism” is certainly a modern one , is inevitably compared with the past. “Elephant” sounds like John Lennon riffing on the “Doctor Who” theme. It is these echoes of the Beatles, and a modern pop sensibility, that makes the track such a killer single. The rest of the LP is a little dreamier (McCartney ?) and just as good. Kevin Parker, Tame Impala , is the best thing to come out of Perth Australia since…no he’s that best thing. He took a long time to make this record and has been rewarded with a place on most “Best of 2012” lists.

OK, I hope I have done Joe’s choices the justice they deserve. Two of the three would have made my own Top 10 and the third is proving to be a “grower”. The exchange of opinions about music and life with Joe & his crew has been just the ticket this year. There are times I say nothing because these guys have already said what I think. This, I tell you, makes a fine change from keeping it zipped because it just ain’t worth it. Onto 2013 brothers !