Monday, December 24th

A Christmas Song for all the readers of Five Things…


The book of Five Things is available from Amazon here.

Front Cover

“He writes with the insight of someone who has inhabited the world of the professional musician but also with the infectious enthusiasm of someone who is a fan like anyone of us. It’s entertaining and inspiring in equal measure.” – from an Amazon review by Zuma

“What a treat! And it has the years before I discovered your blog…” – Dan Franklin, Publisher

“A terrific book, stuffed to the gills with snippets of news items and observations all with a musical theme, pulled together by the watchful eye of Martin Colyer… lovingly compiled, rammed with colour photos and interesting stories. Colyer has a good ear for a tune, an eye for the out-of-ordinary and he can write a bit too.” – Steve Carr, everyrecordtellsastory.com

“I’ve been dipping with huge enjoyment since it arrived” – James Walton, writer and presenter of Radio 4’s books quiz, The Write Stuff, and the R4 pop quiz All the Way from Memphis.

Monday, December 17th

In home news, it’s been good fun watching the ghost of John Redwood turn up in tv studios this week – what a ghastly, low-grade bunch the current Tories are. The week culminated in being at a party where I witnessed a cabinet minister dancing to The Doobie Brothers. It doesn’t get weirder than that… Elsewhere, good to see that a Special Edition of Monopoly commemorating the Trump Presidency has been released. It’s lovely to see Five Thing’s Woodstock correspondent, John Cuneo, on the cover of the December 17th edition of the New Yorker. Congrats, John! I’ve also been vaguely annoyed by the trails for the new series of Soul Music on Radio 4, with a BBC voice telling us that the first episode is Joni Mitchell’s song, “The River”. It’s not “The River”. That’s Springsteen. It’s just “River”. I’ve decided to put all the live reviews that I’ve failed to write into a Five Things Extra! next week (I need that deadline, as you know). Here’s what’s been occurring this week.

{ONE} MUSIC FROM BIG PINK [REDUX]
I now own what seems to be about twelve copies of the Band’s first album – this is possibly the best. A loving essay by David Fricke finds some new things to say and Bob Clearmountain’s mix gives the tracks a new-found presence. It ends with a total gem – the isolated vocal tracks for “I Shall Be Released”. With the heavenly piano, plangent guitar strums and snare-wire beat taken away, the vocal blend is front-and-centre – just exquisite. [Hear on the Music Player to the right].

“It is surely the only rock album of its era and stature that promised a way forward while sounding like it could have been conceived and cut to 78 rpm between world wars. Robertson and Manuel, at that point the Band’s primary composers, wrote like determined modernists with public-domain souls, digging at the previously unmapped common ground of Appalachian folk, old Atlantic R&B 45s, Louisiana Hayride broadcasts, the treble lightning of the mid-sixties Dylan and the grooving spirit of the San Francisco ballrooms.” – from David Fricke’s liner notes.

{TWO} CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
Little Mix, on Graham Norton’s couch, asked to sing a verse one of their hits in Japanese, do so, brilliantly. Obviously set up beforehand and obviously rehearsed, but none the worse for that.

{THREE} JONNY HANNAH EXHIBITION AT VOUT-O-REENEY’S
As usual, a lovely show from Jonny, Fast Cars and Ukeleles. Fine painted uke, with an idea I’ve not seen before – painting the notes on the machine heads. On this night, the show had added DJs – the one I caught was excellent illustrator and teacher, Geoff Grandfield, a man with a passion for rare 45s from Detroit and Chicago (and scratching out the acts to keep them that way). Sadly missed Rob Ryan’s set – another time, Rob.

{FOUR} REMASTERED
“If someone says he’s not his brother’s keeper, then he’s wrong, ’cause he is…” – Johnny Cash.

Netflix’s new series opened with Barbara (Harlan County USA) Kopple and Sara Dosa’s excellent film looking at Cash, a walking mass of contradictions, and his visit to sing “redneck country music songs” at the Nixon White House in Tricky Dick and the Man in Black. It’s 1968, Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison has just gone to No1 in the charts and Richard Nixon has just moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It starts and you’re thinking, way to go, Johnny… “I thank God for all the freedoms we’ve got in this country. I cherish them, even the rights to burn the flag. You know, I’m proud of those rights [crowd boos]. But I’ll tell you what, we’ve also got – let me tell you something… shhhh… we’ve also got a right to bear arms, and if you burn my flag, I’ll shoot you! And I’ll shoot you with a lot of love, like a good American…”

It then details the “Southern strategy” that Nixon used to win the ’68 presidential election. “It has been used by every Republican candidate since – dog whistles to racists, dog whistles to conservatives using key phrases like the silent majority”, one contributor points out. John Cash, his son, says of the invite… “My daddy refused to sing the two songs that the President [or maybe H.R. Haldeman, Cash’s biggest fan in the White House] requested…” And someone else says, “Who was going to show up at the White House? Johnny Cash of “Folsom Prison Blues” or the rebel, the guy who was photographed “flipping off the Man” or the God-fearing family man with a baby on the way – the Gospel-singing Johnny Cash?”

There’s a stunning section that follows Eartha Kitt taking LBJ to task when she was an invited performer at the White House, as Carole Feraci (one of the Ray Conniff singers) says, “President Nixon, stop bombing human beings, animals and vegetation” while holding up a placard saying Stop The Killings – there’s a quick cut to Ray Conniff, who, with a terrible grin/grimace on his face agrees with the man who shouts “Throw her outta here…” “All right” says Ray…

And in 1969 came The Johnny Cash Show, a quintessentially American experience, but which famously cast its net wider than country music for its guest performers. As we know, he had Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor and Pete Seeger – these were not people who had even really been on national tv before, a brave move at the time. The film is really worth watching, especially for the riveting performance at the White House.

{FIVE} LET’S IGNORE LOW’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE
“If you were born today
We’d kill you by age eight
Never get the chance to say
Joy to the world and
Peace on the earth
Forgive them for they know not what they do”
– from “If You Were Born Today”, on their rather gorgeous Christmas album.

Tuesday, December 4th

I thought that normal service was resumed, but life can be complex sometimes, as Chas and Dave noted in 1975, what with “one fing ’n’ anuvver.” Here’s a quick Five Things, with a promise of various things seen and loved recently (Bill Frisell! Ry Cooder!) being written about soon. WordPress have just changed everything about the blog designing process, so bear with… Oh, and I have two tickets that I (sadly) can’t use for the fascinating Julia Holter at Hackney EartH on December 12th. Email me at martinworkbench@gmail.com if you’re interested.

{ONE} BEST RECENT AUCTION LOT
I love the “Late 20th Century” attribution, but sadly it’s being sold without the fibre optic lights…

{TWO} DANCE ME TO THE END OF… AFRICA?
From Time Out… “Everyone loves ‘Africa’ by Toto. It’s a fact. It’s dance floor catnip, a glorious 4 minutes and 55 seconds of pure 80’s tune-age. Because we just can’t get enough of the ear worm, there’s now a club night where you can hear the nostalgic banger non-stop for a whole four hours. That’s right, Toto’s ‘Africa’ played 53 times on repeat. And if you stay for the whole thing you might finally be able to perfect that weird As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti line.

{THREE} CAROL KAYE WRECKS BASSES…
The legendary “Wrecking Crew” bassist on her chosen instrument…
Reverb: You’ve said the Fender bass wasn’t a great instrument, but it got a certain sound that no other instruments got. Why was it not great?
Carol Kaye: It was a great instrument for recording those kinds of sounds back in the ’60s and ’70s, but it wasn’t great like a Steinway piano or a Gibson L-5. It was a board with four strings on it, but it got the job done; it got the sound and the feel for the music. The first Fender I played was neck heavy and always pointed toward the floor. You had to constantly hold that neck up because it was not balanced, and that is very hard on your neck. I usually bought a new Fender every two years to get new strings. I was working day and night, so I’d run into the music store on my lunch hour, grab a new bass, and sometimes I had to pull the neck off real fast to put a shim in the neck to make it play well.

{FOUR} FROM PRIVATE EYE‘S PSEUDS CORNER. WONDERFUL.
“There was 15 one-way streets and one solitary two-way street where me and my brother got to meet in the middle. Two worlds definitely collided. When two worlds collide, two things happen: destruction or the genesis of new beginnings, and you created water on a new planet.” – Matt Goss on the reformation of Bros, The Sun

{FIVE} JERRY CHRISTMAS…?
A frightening bunch of musical Santas channelling Jerry Garcia at a Garden Centre somewhere in the Home Counties…

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full Five Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser


The book of Five Things is available from Amazon here.

Front Cover

“He writes with the insight of someone who has inhabited the world of the professional musician but also with the infectious enthusiasm of someone who is a fan like anyone of us. It’s entertaining and inspiring in equal measure.” – from an Amazon review by Zuma

“What a treat! And it has the years before I discovered your blog…” – Dan Franklin, Publisher

“A terrific book, stuffed to the gills with snippets of news items and observations all with a musical theme, pulled together by the watchful eye of Martin Colyer… lovingly compiled, rammed with colour photos and interesting stories. Colyer has a good ear for a tune, an eye for the out-of-ordinary and he can write a bit too.” – Steve Carr, everyrecordtellsastory.com

“I’ve been dipping with huge enjoyment since it arrived” – James Walton, writer and presenter of Radio 4’s b

November 13th. Normal Service Resumed…

ONE RIP TJW
Sad news that a true one-off, Tony Joe White, has passed away at 75. His early albums were rough and ready, gusty and emotional. Listen to “Aspen, Colorado” (covered beautifully by Robert Cray on his recent Hi Rhythm album), or “The Train I’m On” for his simple yet sophisticated storytelling. He was by far the best thing on a Muscle Shoals bill at the Barbican a few years back, leaning back on his chair, accompanied only by his swamp guitar, a small amp and a plaintive harmonica, spinning tales, slowly putting the audience under his spell and sounding only like himself.

Jeb Loy Nichols wrote beautifully at Caught by the River: “In my life as a musician, no one has been more important to me than Tony Joe White. For forty-five years his music has been my soundtrack, my daily touchstone, my reminder, my bedrock. I once asked him who, or what, had been the biggest influence on him; he thought about it for a moment and then, in his quiet drawl, said, the rain.”

TWO IT’S SENSORY MARKETING, BABY!
“Some clients hire Rob Wood [founder and creative director of Music Concierge, a company that chooses background music for businesses] because they want to influence individuals’ behaviour. When the football club Tottenham Hotspur was looking for music for its new training ground complex, Wood was asked to provide playlists for a holistic programme covering every aspect of Spurs’ players’ psychological and physical wellbeing. Others seek to create a certain atmosphere, such as the restaurant German Gymnasium, for which he sourced particular bell sounds that evoked Mitteleuropean cafe culture.” – from Jake Huyler’s fascinating Guardian piece on the “music design” – formerly known as muzak – industry.

THREE INTERVIEW OF THE WEEK
John Cooper Clark by Tim Adams, in The Observer. A typically insightful and amusing set of responses from the good Doctor. Among a shout-out to Bill Withers and Busby Berkeley was this answer to a question posed by DJ Lauren Laverne.
Q: What is it that mono can do that stereo can’t?
A: “Hi Lauren. Well, for one thing, mono could produce the Phil Spector “wall of sound”. You couldn’t have that in stereo. That glorious bank of french horns bleeding into a mess of cellos and strings. I tend to live by the dictum “less is more”, but that mono sound proved more can be more. It is also more true to life. If you went to see a band, the Beatles, the Stones, they were up there on the stage; you would naturally expect all the sound to come from their general direction. What do you want to listen to the bass player over your left shoulder for? Stereo is some nerd twiddling his knobs. The only stereo I like is a jukebox: two speakers but both on the same piece of furniture. Phil Spector is obviously out of circulation right now, but I am keeping the faith alive. Stereo, my ass.”

FOUR A RECOMMENDATION…
One of the things that really helps in times where grinding stress is balanced with periods of mind-numbing boredom is a gripping read. Thanks go to Steve Way for giving me three of Mick Herron’s terrific Jackson Lamb series, charting the exploits of a group of MI6 cast-offs, billeted in a run-down office, Slough House, near Barbican Station. This gives them the tag “Slow Horses” among the spooks at Service headquarters – characters half-off the books but too tricky to sack, slowly being bored into resignation.

Herron balances the behind-the-curtain-realism of John Le Carré with a blistering sense of humour and a tuned ear for the way people speak – he’s the first author I’ve read to recognise that people say “gunna” not “gonna”, as in “I’m gunna do something”. He also describes London as it actually is, in all its everyday, grimy glory. And he cleaves to the British Crime Novelist template of “Jazz Lover”. There aren’t many references to music, but this passage creeps into the fourth novel of the series, Spook Street:

“Apart from his fingers he is still, but these move unceasingly, his keyboard pushed aside to better accommodate this, and while an observer would see nothing more than an advanced case of the fidgets, what J.K. Coe is describing on the scuffed surface of his desk is a silent replica of what’s coursing through his head via his iPod: Keith Jarrett’s improvised piano recital from Osaka, 8 November1976, one of the Sun Bear concerts; Coe’s fingers miming the melodies Jarrett discovered on the night, all those miles and years away. It’s a soundless echo of another man’s genius, and it serves a dual purpose: of tamping down Coe’s thoughts, which are dismal, and of drowning out the noises his mind would otherwise entertain: the sound of wet meat dropping to the floor, for instance, or the buzz of an electric carving knife wielded by a naked intruder.”

Someone should make these into a tv series, especially as the weirdly under-cooked The Little Drummer Girl was so short on laughs or thrills.

FIVE AND ANOTHER…
It’s the new podcast from Rock’s Backpages! Yes, I’m biased, but it’s really good. Like eavesdropping on two good friends off on a hike through the foothills of the mountains of rock… hear Mark liken Keith Moon to “the ghastly showoff at school that you just want to thump…” and Barney reminisce about the time they met Wu-Tang’s U-God – “a very bizarre encounter, where Mark and I were waiting at the San Francisco airport, and we suddenly realised that in the departure lounge with us was most of The Wu-Tang Clan – not that I’d ever done a headcount…” And, as Mark would say, “So on and so forth!” Episodes here.

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full Five Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser


The book of Five Things is available from Amazon here.

Front Cover

He writes with the insight of someone who has inhabited the world of the professional musician but also with the infectious enthusiasm of someone who is a fan like anyone of us. It’s entertaining and inspiring in equal measure.” – from an Amazon review by Zuma

“What a treat! And it has the years before I discovered your blog…” – Dan Franklin, Publisher

“A terrific book, stuffed to the gills with snippets of news items and observations all with a musical theme, pulled together by the watchful eye of Martin Colyer… lovingly compiled, rammed with colour photos and interesting stories. Colyer has a good ear for a tune, an eye for the out-of-ordinary and he can write a bit too.” – Steve Carr, everyrecordtellsastory.com

“I’ve been dipping with huge enjoyment since it arrived” – James Walton, writer and presenter of Radio 4’s books quiz, The Write Stuff, and the R4 pop quiz All the Way from Memphis.

Thursday, October 4th

I’m glad we got the chance to see Charles Aznavour a few years ago, to hear a master at work. Alan Clayson’s choice of ten Aznavour songs in The Guardian was spot on, although ten wasn’t enough to include “It Will Be My Day” and “You’ve Got to Learn”. Find the latter in the music player on the right. In other news this week, the Theremin has reached the mainstream when Graham Norton has a conversation with Ryan Gosling about it, followed by a demonstration, in which Lada Gaga nailed it. Some part of me wants to see Bradley Cooper and Lada Gaga mixin’ it up in A Star is Born. I’m almost tempted to watch Barb and Kris as homework.

Anyway, tonight, thanks to Mark, it’s Vulfpeck. I have no real idea who they are (I think from Brooklyn. No, I’ve checked – Ann Arbor, neighbour to Detroit, Michigan), I’ve heard precisely four minutes of their music (but I liked it a lot, especially the bass player) and I’m looking forward to, uh, getting down in Brixton…

ONE CHARLES AZNAVOUR AT THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL
From Five Things, 25th November 2015: Charles used the Judas word at the Albert Hall a little while ago, a couple of weeks after Bob was there. Ninety-one, and strutting around the stage like a fit seventy-year-old, he told us stories from his career, rescued “She” from the cawing clutches of Elvis Costello’s Notting Hill cover, and gave a hundred-minute show to an adoring bunch of fans. ‘You know, if you come to be famous, popular, doesn’t matter if you are a singer, actor or politician or anything else, but known – you know what I mean – a money-maker, you’ll find yourself surrounded by an extraordinary entourage of people trying to be helpful in any way – for example, if they found you in bed with their own wives they would pull the cover over you in case you catch cold… [they are] a parasite, until your success begins to decline. So after you have been squeezed like a lemon, the time will come for them to sell you, betray you, to crucify you. I call this song “My Friend, My Judas”.’ What followed was a staggering cross between Barry White and John Barry, with a side order of Bacharach’s Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid soundtrack. Awesome.

TWO GIVE THE DRUMMER SOME…*
How many drummers does it take to change a light bulb? Ten – one to replace it and the other nine to tell you how Steve Gadd would have done it better.

Weckl, Purdie, Gadd, Paice, Starks & Stubblefield, Earl Young, Steve White. Just a few of the drummers featured in Chris Wilson’s new four-part Sky Arts series, The Art of Drumming, as he crosses continents and genres to talk to the greats. It’s beautifully filmed and full of great quotes. Here’s Earl Young, Philly hero, looking sensational at seventy-eight, on powering Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes: “The pumping bass drum was like a signature, but it’s not just the bass drum. See in the studio, this (points to hi-hat) is the most important feel of a song. Most drummers just use it to keep time, and they worry about this (indicates rest of kit). I worry about this (points to hi-hat), because, to me, this is everything – I hear this as a melody…”

It pays proper homage to New Orleans and the rudiments as it takes us from thrash to jazz. Learn what extreme metal guys owe to Louis Bellson, and let Thomas Lang (Boyzone, The Spice Girls!) blow your mind with his eight-pedal kit. Check your prejudices at the door as Iron Maiden’s Nicko McBrain talks swing and power: “I’m blessed to play with the best bass player in the world in our genre of music… but I got to be honest, it’s getting harder for me to play that kind of style physically. I’m an old man. I got my railcard last week! Ha!” Bill Ward. Bill Ward of Black Sabbath! Riveting! “I play orchestration-ally. I’m not a very good backbeat drummer… when you play loud and slow music at the same time, there’s just this huge sustaining growl… a wall of sound”, which Bill then goes on to demonstrate vocally.

Bette Midler’s drummer, Daniel Glass, is great on Billy Gussak’s snare bombs on Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock” and Earl Palmer’s shuffle variation on Little Richard’s “Lucille”, and Fay Milton of Savages, after playing an extraordinary triplet pattern for the song “The Answer”, tells us that basically, she’s “replicating my own version in my head of what I’m hearing from a sampler from a track that I loved 20 years ago!” Chad Smith of The Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Ian Paice was the first drummer I wanted to play like, so much swing! See, I’m ten years old again!” – is illuminating about Ringo, Bill Ward, and pretty much everyone else mentioned in the programme. Watch as they all play along to iconic tracks while explaining both the mechanics and the soul…

*In “Funky Drummer”, James Brown announces the upcoming drum break, with a request to “give the drummer some.” He tells Clyde Stubblefield, “You don’t have to do no soloing, brother, just keep what you got…” Stubblefield’s eight-bar unaccompanied “solo”, a version of the riff he plays through most of the song, is the result of Brown’s directions; this breakbeat is one of the most sampled recordings in music.

THREE IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Seen on a bus in Stratford. First, do you think they asked for Lionel’s (or Liooel, as he’ll always be to me) permission? And, second, isn’t Muzmatch just the worst app name that you’ve ever heard?

5-lionel

FOUR NETFLIX AND CHILLS
More potentially good television. From the press release: An upcoming Netflix docuseries will investigate some of music’s biggest mysteries, including the 1976 assassination attempt on Bob Marley and the murders of Sam Cooke and Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay.

The eight-episode ReMastered will arrive on the streaming service on October 12th with Who Shot the Sheriff?, a look at the role Jamaican politicians and the CIA played in the attempted assassination of Marley, who suffered gunshot wounds to the arm and chest in the incident. The following month, Harlan County U.S.A. documentarian Barbara Kopple co-directs an examination into Johnny Cash’s tumultuous White House meeting with Richard Nixon in Tricky Dick and the Man in Black.

Netflix will stream one new episode of ReMastered every month through May 2019, with the December 2018 episode focusing on Who Killed Jam Master Jay?, the Run-DMC DJ who was killed in a Queens, New York studio in 2002; despite six witnesses, the murder remains unsolved.

Subsequent months bring an investigation into the murder of three members of the Irish group the Miami Showband during the Troubles in Ireland in 1975, the death of Chilean singer Victor Jara at the hands of the Pinochet regime and, in February, a look into the mysterious shooting death of Sam Cooke. ReMastered’s first season concludes with Devil at the Crossroads, about blues legend Robert Johnson and his apocryphal handshake deal with the Devil, and Lion’s Share, about one man’s journey to South Africa to find the true writers behind the hit “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” ReMastered was created by Emmy award-winners Jeff Zimbalist and Michael Zimbalist and lists Irving Azoff and Stu Schreiberg among its executive producers.

FIVE BOB CORNER
I usually like Rich Hall and his take on America (from an exile’s perspective), but this promo for his new tour is almost funny (i.e. not funny enough) and pretty mean-spirited. And plain weird to write off everything Bob’s done since 1988, which kinda proves he’s not listening.

Thursday, September 27th

It’s Thursday, and Teresa May is currently redefining the word awkward. Donald Trump is on some quest to recalibrate all norms of human behaviour, and The Bodyguard has thankfully finished (hands down, the worst series that I have ever watched right to the end). However, this week’s Five Things was written in the cool Dark Mode of MacOS Mohave, while listening to a bootleg of the demos for the White Album mostly recorded at George Harrison’s house in Esher. They’re possibly on the new boxset to be released in November.

I like Paul McCartney’s take on it: “We had left Sgt. Pepper’s band to play in his sunny Elysian Fields and were now striding out in new directions without a map.” Ah, musicians in the act of creating something, before it gets nailed down, still loose enough for a certain amount of fun. In a sense, this is their Basement Tapes, and it’s interesting to hear “Back in the USSR” sounding much more Beach-Boys-y, and “Child of Nature” before its melody became re-purposed as “Jealous Guy”.

I wish I were at The Village Trip in New York this week. Congratulations are due to Liz Thompson for having the determination to pull the whole thing together. Starting with a photo exhibition featuring the work of David Gahr, it features a free concert in Washington Square Park with Susanne Vega headling and ends with a gig, Talkin’ New York Folk Revival, at The Bitter End featuring David Amram and Happy Traum. Liz hopes this will be the first year of many celebrating the importance of Greenwich Village in America’s music history.

ONE DAVID & SYD
Writing a profile of my first boss, David Driver, for Eye magazine, I ended up with much material that had to be excised. Here’s David’s recollection of Syd Barrett at the Cambridge School of Art: “Roger ‘Syd’ Barrett was also at the college. He formed Pink Floyd and played at our Christmas parties. I remember going to Syd’s home a few times, and he had a huge collection of singles. There was a mountain of them on the floor. Incredible. He was very clever. But I think he was quite limited in what he could do. He wasn’t a brilliant musician.”
But an interesting all-rounder – did you ever see him post-college?

“Yes. I did. But he was a bit strange around that time. Very sad. You wouldn’t have expected it. When he was at college Syd and Roger Waters were just so desperately keen to pick your brains, they were like magpies. They were a good two or three years below us and, they’d come and scour the place and talk to older students during lunchtime.”

TWO WHENEVER BLUE TEARDROPS ARE FALLING…
I wouldn’t really recommend pulling into Ostend on a Sunday night – there was something menacing about its silent, deserted streets, only punctuated by music belting out of overlit pizza joints that seemed to be filled with over-oiled patrons. I’m sure it looks way better midweek, or on market day. Hotel located we headed to the seafront promenade to find something to eat, passing concert halls and galleries.

There’s a lot of music going on in Ostend, and it embraces its part in the Marvin Gaye story with this: “14 February 1981. Marvin Gaye arrives by ferry in Ostend, together with his little boy, Bubby. It marks the start of a fascinating story about Ostend, Marvin Gaye and the relationship between the two. This documentary walk through the city tells you everything about his comeback and how the monster hit song “Sexual Healing” came to life.” Sadly we won’t be taking that tour, or witnessing this…

5-ostend

THREE IT MUST BE BOOTLEG WEEK…
…as bobdylan.com announces the Blood on the Tracks entry to the Bootleg Series. So we’re at Volume 14 with More Blood, More Tracks. “The 6CD full-length deluxe version includes the complete New York sessions in chronological order including outtakes, false starts and studio banter. The album’s producers have worked from the best sources available, in most cases utilising the original multi-track session tapes.” Two thoughts. How staggering is it to reach number 14 in a multi-disc series using mainly just your unreleased masters and alternate takes. And, secondly, I could fill a week just listening to the 18 CDs in The Cutting Edge box set. Trouble is, I don’t have a week to devote to it, or worse, the desire. When is too much enough?

FOUR JUNK PARTNERS…
The reason I was listening to the Beatles bootleg, above, was to find out more about the song that titles Hailey Tuck’s first album, “Junk”. I feel slightly guilty for liking the record as much as I do, but as with all of Larry Klein’s productions the musicianship is so damned musicianly and the songs so well-chosen it’s hard to resist. Dean Parks is all over it, and Jay Bellerose on drums gives his usual masterly best – check out his accented playing on “My Chemical Life”.

The song is very cute, spun off a quote by W. H. Auden. “He said that in order to wake up, he would drink coffee, down a shot of whiskey, and take whatever drugs would get him into the mood of writing and he called it his chemical life. So the song’s about a suburban wife who is addicted to drugs kind of try to escape the banality of her wifey existence.” – Hailey Tuck, talking to Charles Waring of SoulandJazzandFunk. “Speedballs and cappuccino / My mother called from San Marino / Where Lambourghinis float down soft suburban streets / And gardeners keep the rhododendrons nice and neat”.

Other songs include Pulp’s “Underwear” (“If fashion is your trade, then when you’re naked / I guess you must be unemployed…”) and The Kinks’ “Alcohol” (“Barleywine, pink gin / He’ll drink anything…”), and the rather lovely version of McCartney’s “Junk” that started this.

FIVE SEEN AT A VINTAGE FAIR AT WALTHAMSTOW ASSEMBLY HALL

5-walthamstow

EXTRA LET’S FINISH WITH THIS!
If you haven’t seen it… The Band of the Welsh Guards played Aretha Franklin’s “R.E.S.P.E.C.T” on the day of her funeral, on the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. 

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full Five Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser


The book of Five Things is available from Amazon here.

Front Cover

He writes with the insight of someone who has inhabited the world of the professional musician but also with the infectious enthusiasm of someone who is a fan like anyone of us. It’s entertaining and inspiring in equal measure.” – from an Amazon review by Zuma

“What a treat! And it has the years before I discovered your blog…” – Dan Franklin, Publisher

“A terrific book, stuffed to the gills with snippets of news items and observations all with a musical theme, pulled together by the watchful eye of Martin Colyer… lovingly compiled, rammed with colour photos and interesting stories. Colyer has a good ear for a tune, an eye for the out-of-ordinary and he can write a bit too.” – Steve Carr, everyrecordtellsastory.com

“I’ve been dipping with huge enjoyment since it arrived” – James Walton, writer and presenter of Radio 4’s books quiz, The Write Stuff, and the R4 pop quiz All the Way from Memphis.

 

 

 

Tuesday, September 11th

Finishing the book [see below] and the whole Summer thing took my eye off the ball, but Five Things will return refreshed next week. In the meantime here are a few notes…

IN THE NEWS…
So they’re finally making the Dusty Springfield movie, with Gemma Arterton starring. “I’ve been an admirer of Dusty Springfield since I was a teenager. Her effortless, husky voice, the way she conveyed emotion through music, how she helped bring Motown to the UK… She was generous, witty, mercurial, shy, extrovert and a true English eccentric. I simply cannot wait to play her.” Now, this is where it gets interesting: the narrative will focus on a pivotal time in Springfield’s career – the 1968 recording of Dusty in Memphis, which gave birth to top 10 hit, “Son of a Preacher Man” recorded after Aretha Franklin passed on it.

As Paul Sexton wrote on udiscovermusic.com earlier this year, “Recordings got underway with Wexler, Dowd and Mardin all in the control room at American, and with the great session players known collectively as the Memphis Cats adding their studio expertise. But for all her vocal greatness, Springfield’s insecurities, and a certain uneasiness in these new surroundings made the Memphis sessions difficult for all concerned. Notwithstanding the authentic Southern flavour of the tracks, the album’s title belied the fact that Dusty’s final vocals for it were recorded at later sessions in New York.”

LISTENING TO…
“Todo Homem”. An aching falsetto, a feather bed of Rhodes, a beguiling melody, a fingerprint of bass and nylon-string guitar, some whistling. Fleet Foxes may be a lazy touchpoint, or Bon Iver, maybe*. I just haven’t heard anything as mesmeric as this for a while… Tom Veloso with his family, Caetano Veloso, Moreno Veloso & Zeca Veloso. 

WATCHING…
Drinkers Like Me – Adrian Chiles (BBC Two). A thoughtful and fascinating programme, but there seemed to be a gaping hole where liking or appreciating the pleasures of the taste of wine and beer, or the combination of food and drink, was missing. Directed by Laurence Turnbull, it used short selections from a cool array of music. Early in the programme a soupcon of Alabama Shakes’ “Sound & Color” made me listen more closely. Here’s what else was used, handily listed on the BBC website.

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The Bodyguard, generator of an absurd amount of press. Really? It’s quite poor. Nobody’s told Richard Madden that staring isn’t acting, and every character is made from the thinnest cardboard. There’s no hinterland here. I don’t mind suspending disbelief, but there has to be something to suspend it from. Mind, I never liked Jed Mecurio’s Line of Duty – characters speaking in cliches and wearing way too much makeup for the 9 to 5.

READING…
Just finished First Time Ever, Peggy Seeger’s memoir of her life as Pete Seeger’s younger sister and Ewan McColl’s second wife (and the subject of McColl’s “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”). I’ve never really been a fan of her brand of folk, but the book’s unflinching and extraordinary style makes for a compelling read. An excerpt: “You reveal yourself the minute you go on stage. You present who you are, who you have been and how you want to be thought of. Your behaviour on and off stage tells all to the practised eye – if you have one persona on stage and another off, that can be tricky, for if these two entities do not work well together they will either trudge on like a tired marriage or one will begin to dominate… The audience is cannier than you think. They will only be fooled if they want to be fooled. But sometimes they may not know that they’ve been led down this or that path until it opens up into a clearing where we can all sit down and have the picnic…” There’s an excellent review of it here, and thanks, Tim, for loaning it to me.

IN PICTURES…


Klaus Voormann’s bass for sale.

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So Long: Marianne’s Leonard artefacts auctioned at Christie’s.
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Bob Gumpert brings a bottle of Heaven’s Door Double Barrel Whiskey to us!

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Clay Risen in The New York Times said: “More restrained than its stablemates, the Double Barrel – in which different whiskeys have been blended and further aged together in another cask – smells of cake batter, fresh berries and children’s cough syrup; as it develops in the glass, its nose turns darker and woodier, with a hint of sweet fortified wine lurking in the background. It tastes surprisingly astringent and medicinal, given the nose, with a thin mouthfeel and notes of tobacco, allspice and wood smoke, resolving in ground pepper.” We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Amanda Petrusich wrote a lovely piece about trying the range in The New Yorker here.

*I admit laziness here.


If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full 5 Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser.


The book of Five Things is available from Amazon here.

Front Cover

He writes with the insight of someone who has inhabited the world of the professional musician but also with the infectious enthusiasm of someone who is a fan like anyone of us. It’s entertaining and inspiring in equal measure.” – from an Amazon review by Zuma

“What a treat! And it has the years before I discovered your blog…” – Dan Franklin, Publisher

“A terrific book, stuffed to the gills with snippets of news items and observations all with a musical theme, pulled together by the watchful eye of Martin Colyer… lovingly compiled, rammed with colour photos and interesting stories. Colyer has a good ear for a tune, an eye for the out-of-ordinary and he can write a bit too.” – Steve Carr, everyrecordtellsastory.com

 

Five Things: The Book!

Cover1Released on Friday, and available at Amazon in the US, Europe and Great Britain, “Five Things I Saw and Heard This Week” is an offbeat take on music in everyday life, whether heard on screens, in supermarkets or on stages. From award shows to obscure acts, I follow my interests to end up down some fascinating cul-de-sacs. Fact-filled, entertaining, informative and inspiring in equal measure, “Five Things” will make you search out hidden gems in your record collection or on the world wide web, and possibly introduce you to your next favourite musician.

Cover2Five Things I Saw and Heard This Week, Volume One, July 2018


Published by martinworkbench&co. / Independent Publishing Network


ISBN 978-1-78926-180-6


209.5mm wide x 152.5mm deep


212 pages with Full Colour throughout!


Price (UK) £19.99 (EU) €24.99 (US) $27.99
Sorry about the toppy price, but the whole print-on-demand thing gets expensive when you want a particular format in full colour with bleed. On the plus side, I don’t have boxes of books jamming up the studio, never to be sold. Here are a couple of random spreads to give you a taste…

5T Spreads

At the foot of the pages, you’ll find recommended songs, relevant to an item on that page, or Google tags that will take you to videos or articles mentioned. Most can be found on Spotify or YouTube, but where the songs are super obscure and hard to find, there’s a type mark, †, which tells you that the song is part of a Zip file that I will happily send if you email me. Here’s the tracklisting for that.

Five Shadow


The book is edited by Rick Ball, with a foreword by Richard Williams and a cover illustration by Sam Falconer.


Kevin Cheeseman has made a Spotify playlist to accompany the book, featuring almost all of the songs that are mentioned at the foot of the pages. That’s 142 songs. Great work, Kevin!


All best, Martin

Wednesday, July 18th

This week’s Five Things was written to the sound of a BBC commentator exclaiming “In Paris tonight, they’re going to party like it’s 1998!” as the World Cup Final ended, a line that had to have been thought of in prep for the game, and one they probably winced over, but, what the hell, decided to use.

Oh, and also written to the awful soundtrack of the vassal state that is Piers Morgan getting all boys-toys excited by Air Force One and the enforced closure of Stansted Airport for his exclusive interview with you-know-who. Almost everything about the programme (#pierstrumpaf1) was staggeringly offensive. I’m saying that so that you don’t waste an hour of your lives, but I still think you should watch it, in case the Revolution comes, Piers Morgan gets captured, and this is needed to build the case against him. To clear my head, I put on Lee Dorsey singing “River Boat”, an extremely weird and discombobulated slice of sparse funk. Check it out if you don’t know it. Okay, Five Things

ONE FATHER AND SONS
As 8 o’clock, as Belgium v France entered its second spell I thought about Caetano Veloso and his concert at the Barbican. I’m not the only person with tickets who couldn’t pass up the game. I wondered about his first half audience. Luckily – or not – Brazil were taking no part in the Semi-Finals, and as his concert promotor, Serious, tweeted “Don’t let last Friday night be a reason to stay in today; come celebrate Brazil with ‘one of the greatest songwriters of the century’ (@nytimes) @caetanoveloso.”

So I watch the game with son Gabe, at my mum’s flat in Covent Garden, before grabbing a cab to the Barbican. I wait for a break in the performance to be admitted. It doesn’t take long, and as I find my seat, I’m struck by the palpable warmth that exists between the musicians and the audience. There are shouted requests and laughter and some conversation from the stalls to the stage.

Caetano Veloso and three of his sons (Moreno, Zecas and Tom) sit in a line across the stage – one at a keyboard, one on bass and the third with a nylon string guitar, twin of the one that Caetano plays. That son (No. 3 if you’re counting from the left) sat insouciantly crosslegged and barefooted, his flip-flops cast aside. The son who started off on bass played a spoon on a plate for the next number, before putting it down so that he could do a kind of sand-dance shimmy across the stage.

Then they start to play a percussive, choppy samba rhythm under a song that the audience knows, seemingly as well as the musicians. Lovers entwine their arms and ecstatically join in, pitch perfect. Like other veteran musicians playing London, there’s a diaspora audience here. I’ve seen it with both Charles Aznavour and Paolo Conte, where a shared heritage turns the evening into something that may be tagged as nostalgia but is actually a deeper celebration of a state of being – here, being Brazilian. And even as a stranger here among this crowd, with no notion of the subjects of the songs, I feel a sort of drunken joyfulness. There’s something special about familial harmonies, atop a velvet Fender Rhodes bed, some nimble bass and sparsely-plucked nylon-stringed guitars. I only caught forty minutes, but it was a great forty minutes. Here’s son Tom leading them in one of the beguiling songs from this new project, Ofertorio.

And on the tube home, I step into the carriage and see a sad couple, with Belgian flags painted on their faces, staring into the middle distance.

TWO STAN THE MAN
I remember wanting to figure out the chords to Andy Razaf and Don Redman’s “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good to You” when it appeared on Geoff Muldaur is Having a Wonderful Time in 1975. My dad said, “Oh, I know someone who can help…” A couple of nights later he handed me a blank cheque, torn out of his Midland Bank chequebook. On the other side, the chords, courtesy of pianist – and my dad’s old mucker – Stan Greig. Stan had played the drums in the Colyer band’s four-month Düsseldorf stint in 1954 (and on Humph’s “Bad Penny Blues”, the inspiration for “Lady Madonna”) and duly delivered all the essential chords, although it took me a while to find out that Fº was otherwise known as F diminished. Oh, and the C13 can be subbed with a C7, but it doesn’t sound quite as good. [Mark sends this: “It’s worth noting that the Muldaur version of “Gee Baby”… is slightly different to any others in that he makes the opening chord of a verse minor rather than major. It really works!]

 

5-greigchequeTHREE HERRMANN AND?
Walking out of an afternoon screening of Taxi Driver into the bright, hot London sunshine was a disorientating experience. The hellish neon and tenement grime of the movie, overscored by Bernard Herrmann’s stunning music, took a while to dissipate. We stayed through the credits mostly to see who played the alto sax and trumpet parts that are so central to the intensity of Herrmann’s score, but they weren’t credited. Some digging turned up that the sax was often misattributed to Tom Scott.

The Library of Congress had this to say: “Orchestrator Christopher Palmer, who was present at the recording sessions in Los Angeles, assured this writer that Ronnie Lang played the alto sax solos and that the so-called “original soundtrack album” was actually a re-recording, made a day or two later and following Herrmann’s death, for which Lang was no longer available and for whom Tom Scott subbed. Other musicians included Uan Rasey (MGM studio’s lead trumpeter), Warren Luening and Malcolm McNab on trumpets…” So I still don’t know who played the trumpet solos. Listening to it, I thought of Jack Sheldon’s fine work on Tom Waits’ score for One From the Heart and the Foreign Affairs album, where he absolutely shines. It turns out that Sheldon studied with Rasey. And I love the fact that Ronnie Lang’s professional début was aged sixteen, with the fantastically named Hoagy Carmichael’s Teenagers…

FOUR LEFSETZ & GAMBINO
Following on from last week, I started reading The Lefsetz Letter because Lionel told me that I should. “Bob Lefsetz is famous for being beholden to no one and speaking the truth. He addresses the issues that are at the core of the music business: downloading, copy protection, pricing and the music itself.” Whew! The letters are long and sometimes too insider-y for the likes of me, but it’s a pungent and entertaining look at the machinations of the music biz. A month ago he wrote about Donald (Childish Gambino) Glover and the astonishing video for his song, “This is America”, possibly the only video that has prompted mainstream media to run features telling you what’s going on it… And it also inspired Pinot (on Instagram) to recreate Glover’s dance moves on a Mac SE using MacPaint. Which is insane.

5-gambino

From Bob Lefsetz: “History always repeats, just not in the way you think it does. We were waiting for anthems to bubble up and dominate radio. But the anger is more tribal and less singable, and music lives online, not over the airwaves. You pull it up on demand, there are no gatekeepers, you get a vibe on the wind, and you check it out.

That’s how hard it is to make it these days. Glover was playing to sold-out theatres, and still most people had no idea what he was doing. Let that be a lesson to the wannabes wondering why they’ve not had their chance. You’ve got to make your own chance, over and over and over again. And I’m not sure how long Glover’s moment lasts. Today some art is evanescent, and some lasts nearly forever. You can have an impact for a moment and be in the rearview mirror just that fast. But if you’re establishing a body of work as opposed to reaching for a momentary brass ring, you survive. Watch the video, have your own opinion, but just know it’s not your father’s music business anymore. Pop is dead. You know, that manufactured sound constructed by a team, refined for smoothness to the point where there’s no edge to catch you.

And rock became so formulaic as to be uninteresting. But hip-hop… The lesson is not to be calculated, not to play it safe, not to second-guess the audience. To dig down deep and tell your own truth. Over and over and over again. To experiment, take chances and then maybe… The public will catch up with you. As it just did with Donald Glover.”

Glover, creator of “Atlanta”, is undoubtedly having a moment, and the video is an astonishing, unsettling piece of work. Between Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino, there’s an impressive level of thinking going on.

Of course, I remember Glover most fondly from Community, where he was terrific as Troy, the ex-high school quarterback who abandons his jock mentality and embraces his nerdy, childish side as the result of his friendship with Abed Nadir. Here they are with their Spanish Rap, “La Biblioteca”.


FIVE FIVE THINGS: A BRAND EXTENSION
This Friday. Hold on to your hats, all you 173 readers of Five Things (and the 50 more on LinkedIn, obvs). All I’ll say for now is that it’s made of paper and ink.

5-book

If you’re receiving the email out, please click on the Date Headline of the page for the full 5 Things experience. It will bring you to the site (which allows you to see the Music Player) and all the links will open in another tab or window in your browser.

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