SLEAFORD MODS: KEY MARKETS (THE NATIONAL UAE)

What better way to celebrate the remaining 16 dates of the Sleaford Mods tour than with a review of their Key Markets album written for a newspaper in the United Arab Emirates? All references to beer were removed from the published version.

Someone said at work yesterday that Sleaford Mods would probably write a song about “Pig-gate”. I would suggest that “Rupert Trousers” on this record actually sees it coming.

I’m a fan of Sleaford Mods, and I think they’re a great live band. Below this is a review I wrote for Uncut last year (with a pic of their great guestlist wristband). Apparently, though, my even-tempered preview of an earlier tour didn’t completely pass muster with the band’s fans (click on images to enlarge).

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BERT AND JOHN SLEEVENOTES

I was proud to be asked to write sleevenotes for the 1966 Bert Jansch/John Renbourn album Bert and John, and happy the other day when a finished copy turned up. I’m hopeful a cheque will follow. Anyway, for anyone who has never heard it, this is a great album – and it was nice to be able to include some thoughts from Bert and John themselves – even though I never exactly grilled them on this topic when I met them – and from Heather Wood from The Young Tradition. The notes themselves are after the break, while there’s more from Heather down the column.

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MOTORHEAD 1976-1982, BY “FAST” EDDIE CLARKE, Pt 1

I recently wrote a Motorhead piece for Uncut. This allowed me to make contact (via http://www.fasteddieclarke.com – thanks Steve) with a personal hero, the guitarist “Fast” Eddie Clarke, who recorded some of my favourite ever riffs, like “No Class”, and “Shoot You In The Back”. Eddie is a good bloke and a great raconteur, and I suspect that his nickname derives as much from the speed he tells a story as the speed he plays a solo. It was one of those rare occasions where one interviewee could easily have told the story himself, so that’s what I’m doing here. As you might imagine, it’s quite long, so I’ll put it up in bits. Blue Goose sounded a bit like Crazy Horse, incidentally.

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THE KEY OF THREE: HEATHER WOOD AND THE YOUNG TRADITION

A kind of Everest interview, in the sense that I dropped Heather Wood an email because she was there. I wanted to see if she might like to chat to me about The Young Tradition (1965-1969), a folk group that she was in with Royston Wood (d.1990) and Peter Bellamy (d. 1991). Happily, she did.

The Young Tradition mainly made records of traditional songs and one, called Galleries, which is more in the Medieval music vein. There is also an EP of shanties, including “Chicken On A Raft”, which is a song about egg on toast.

At one time, they lived in a flat at 30 Somali Road in Camden, downstairs from Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. “The place was complete mayhem,” Bert told me about five years ago. “They made more noise, drunk more, and smoked more dope than anybody else.”

As it turns out, it’s almost exactly 50 years since the trio first met and started singing together. So here, by entirely planned complete coincidence, Heather undertakes an ersatz golden anniversary interview. Thanks, Heather.

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PARAMOUNT BOX SET VOL 2 (THE NATIONAL UAE)

It’s unlikely I will ever drop the $400 or so – not to mention the 40 or so quid it would cost to get it released from customs – that I would need to lay out to buy it, but even experienced digitally, the second Paramount Box set released by Jack White’s Third Man records is just extraordinary. I wrote about it a while ago for my UAE guys and if nothing else it encouraged me to dig around in my John Fahey stuff to find the correct Fahey quote about Skip James (see below). Fahey went on to write that at the time they met, Skip James had cancer of the genitals and had lately had pretty much all of these genitals removed. Which might, I guess, account for some of his unsunny disposition, though nothing Fahey writes suggests that Skip was ever a pleasant man, even when he had the full complement of reproductive organs. Anyway. Continue reading

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LED ZEPPELIN: PHYSICAL GRAFFITI (THE NATIONAL UAE)

I would love to say it was unbelievable that it’s over a year since I posted on here, but it’s anything but. Anyway, here’s a review of the new Led Zeppelin reissue, Physical Graffiti that ran in The National in the United Arab Emirates.

As you will note from the text, I went to the album launch playback at what used to be Olympic Studios. It was an authentically 1975 experience. I was given a Led Zeppelin wristband, ate a Led Zeppelin salad, afterwards wiping my mouth with a Led Zeppelin napkin. I’m not too proud to say I pocketed a Led Zeppelin coaster.

Jimmy Page was there, and I will leave you with the words he spoke before the album’s “companion audio” was played. “Enjoy, yeah?”

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MARTIN SHARP INTERVIEW

Among the sad passings this year was that of Australian artist Martin Sharp. I’m certainly no expert on Martin’s art or its influence, but I always responded to the colour and the humour in his work – say on his sleeve for Ginger Baker’s Air Force – even before I knew it was his. I interviewed him in March 2013 for Uncut about his work with Cream,  but his remarks on mid-1960s London are well worth a look even if psychedelic heaviosity isn’t precisely your bag.

Martin wasn’t in great health when we spoke, but his wit, insight and generosity of spirit evidently could not be dampened by illness.

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Bill Callahan: Dream River (The National, UAE)

You will I hope join with me in celebrating the addition this week to Bill Callahan’s February 2014 tour, of a second date at the Royal Festival Hall. I reviewed his album Dream River for the readers of The National – the broadsheet newspaper of the United Arab Emirates. As you will infer from the edit, the title of Bill’s 2000 LP Dongs Of Sevotion was deemed inappropriate for that publication’s market.

More info on tickets here: http://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whatson/bill-callahan-78995?dt=2014-02-07

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John Fahey Film: In Search Of Blind Joe Death

James Cullingham (who made a Fahey doc for Canadian radio in 1982) has made a nice film about John Fahey. It is the first such documentary – a surprise to Cullingham as much as anyone else. It’ll be on BBC4 in November apparently,  but in the meantime it’s showing in London in the coming week. Details at the bottom of this, which is a news piece from Uncut magazine I wrote a couple of months ago. 

The film tells an at times enchanting, occasionally disturbing story, tacitly as much about the rise of Fahey as a hip figure as much as anything else. (It’s hard to imagine Pete Townshend, sincere as his admiration for Fahey  is, participating before now in such a film.) I hope you have the opportunity of checking it out. There is more info at: http://www.johnfaheyfilm.com

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