Sunday, May 31, 2015

a river ain't too much to love

Smog came to face the truth by diving into the murk with the spellbinding spoken sharpness of this hacked away plateau.     Bill Callahan had experimented with lo-fi recording techniques and dissonance as well as more sophisticated instrumentation over more than a decade (Sewn to the Sky in 1990,  Forgotten Foundation in 1992, Julius Caesar in 1993,  Wild Love in 1995,  The Doctor Came at Dawn in 1996,  Red Apple Falls in 1997, Knock Knock in 1999,  Dongs of Sevotion in 2000,  Rain on Lens in 2001, Accumulation:None in 2002, and  Supper in 2003) before producing his final album under the name Smog:  'A River Ain't Too Much to Love' at Pedernales Studio in Spicewood, Texas in 2004.  The sessions featured  Bill Callahan on vocals, guitar, and various instruments;   Connie Lovatt on vocals and bass guitar;  Jim White on drums;  Thor Harris on hammer dulcimer, airdrums, and zills;  Travis Weller on fiddle;  and Joanna Newsom on piano.  

"Say Valley Maker"

 "Rock Bottom Riser"

"I Feel Like the Mother of the World" 

"In the Pines"

"Let Me See the Colts" 

 'A River Ain't Too Much to Love'
full album:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

submarine bells

The Chills would effloresce with the heavenly pop of this elsatic expansion.   The legendary New Zealand band had begun in 1980 with bandleader Martin Phillipps and his sister Rachel with Jane Dodd, Peter Gutteridge, Alan Haig.   There would be numerous lineup changes with Frazer Batts, Terry Moore, and Martyn Bull coming into the fold.  When Bull became ill, the group went on hiatus and almost changed their name.  A a compilation of early singles 'Kaleidoscope World'  and their first album 'Brave Words' made them local superstars and architects of the Dunedin sound.   Peter Allison, Martin Kean, and Caroline Easther would all come and go before they graduated from New Zealand's Flying Nun Records to Warner Brothers subsidiary Slash Records for 'Submarine Bells'.    The album was recorded at Jacobs Studios in Surrey with producer Gary Smith and engineer Paul Apted.   The sessions featured   Martin Phillipps on vocals and guitar;  Justin Harwood on bass and background vocals;   James Stephenson on drums and percussion;  Andy Todd on keyboards and background vocals;  and Donna Savage on background vocals.

Phillipps would express at the time:  “The belief in the band at an industry level and at a media level has been incredible. It’s not like it happens to every band and everyone thinks that they’re the most amazing group. The indication was that the Chills were something very special with commercial potential as opposed to very interesting but hopelessly unmarketable. People really thought there was something going to happen with us.”

'Submarine Bells' became a smash success at home, going to number one on the New Zealand album chart and winning Album of the Year at the New Zealand Music Awards. 

"Heavenly Pop Hit" was their only chart entry in the UK, going to number ninety-seven.  Likewise, in the US, it was their only song to chart, making it to number seventeen on the Modern Rock Tracks chart.  In New Zealand it soared to number two.

Each evening the sun sets in five billion places,
Seen by ten billion eyes set in five billion faces,
Then they close in a daze and wait for the dawing,
But the daylight and sunrise
Are brighter in our eyes,
Where night cannot devour golden solar power

Once we were damned now I guess we are angels
For we passed though the dark and avoided the dangers
Then I awoke with a start to startling changes
All the tension is ended,
The sentence suspended,
And darkness now sparkles and gleams.

And it all seems larger than life to me
I find it rather hard rather hard to believe.

So I stand as the sound goes straight through my body,
I'm so bloated up, happy, and I throw things around me.
And I'm growing in stages, and have been for ages,
Just singing and floating and free.

Dum de dum dum
Its a heavenly pop hit
If anyone wants it.
Dum de dum dum
Its a heavenly pop hit,
Its something that we're humming as
We swoop low on trees, or we sweep under carpets,
We can dive into suns though its not recommended,
We can hover, silent, and listen, closely...

It all seems, (all seems)
Larger than life to me,
I find it, (find it)
Hard to believe,

So where was our home,
Well, our home was in tears,
For it's fruit has gone bad,
They'd been that way for years
Yet their lives are elsatic,
They should be fantastic,
They should be expanding.

Dum de dum dum
Dum de dum dum
It's a heavenly pop hit,
If anyone wants it.

Dum de dum dum
Dum de dum dum
It's a heavenly pop hit,
For anybody,
For those that still want it.

"The Oncoming Day"

"Sweet Times"

"Submarine Bells"

'Submarine Bells'
full album:

All songs written by Martin Phillips.

Heavenly Pop Hit 3:27
Tied Up In Chain 3:15
The Oncoming Day 3:06
Part Past Part Fiction 2:55
Singing In My Sleep 2:39
I SOAR 3:04
Dead Web 2:15
Familiarity Breeds Contempt 3:20
Don't Be - Memory 4:45
Effloresce And Deliquesce 2:45
Sweet Times 0:40
Submarine Bells 3:41

Friday, May 29, 2015

neu! '75

Neu! brought their divergent musical streams together to craft this ambient motorik proto-punk amalgam.     Michael Rother  and   Klaus Dinger  started the project after a brief stint with Kraftwerk in 1971.  They recorded two experimental albums ('Neu' and 'Neu 2' ) before taking a brief hiatus.  During the recording of the second album, they ran out of money and used remixed versions of singles from the album to flesh out side two.    Michael Rother left Düsseldorf to form Harmonia with Dieter Moebius and Hans-Joachim Roedelius in Forst/Weserbergland; while  Klaus Dinger started his own label Dingerland which soon went bankrupt.

Dinger:    "I studied architecture for three years and gave that up and jumped into a black hole, and, ja, let’s say this official way of life was gone at that time, so somehow I had to express myself, or together with Michael, but still myself — or himself. I also was very, I mean I believed in his originality from the beginning. It was very obvious. So, ja, what else, what more can you ask for? But, ja, self-consciousness, I think that is a very individual thing ... Neu! 75 happened in December 74, and, ja, in this year, early 74, I made my own label, and had produced another group, called Lilac Angels...I spent a lot of money on that and I didn’t get the response I wanted from the industry...Anyway, the deal didn’t happen and I was very angry, bankrupt for the first time in my life, lots of debts for my experience so far at that time, it was about 50,000 marks. And I made two more attempts to get this label going, and organised, and also borrowed money to finance two free concerts in 74, which happened in a place quite close to Düsseldorf. And also then nobody appeared from the industry, and, ja, I think at that time I already had a quite bad image — which didn’t get much better in the meantime over the years ... My then girlfriend, which you find one way or the other in many songs, “Lieber Hönig”, for instance, that is this one, or the one who sat with me in this rowing boat you can hear on the first album. This was a bit difficult relation, because she had to go to Norway with her parents, and during the whole Neu!, this whole time, these three years, we nearly never met, or so on, somehow strange to believe today, ne?, how this can happen, and in 74, in this year when all these things didn’t happen, also this relationship finished, and all these bad feelings and, ja, not so much perspective, I must say, at that time, the only chance was to, OK, there was one more record to make for Metronome, and we did that. But as you can hear... it’s maybe quite interesting to really write it down these “Hero” words..."

'Neu '75' was recorded and mixed at Conny Plank's studio between December 1974 and January 1975 with Konrad "Conny" Plank acting as producer and engineer.   The sessions featured  Michael Rother on guitar, keyboards, and vocals;   and   Klaus Dinger on drums for side 1, and guitar and vocals for side 2;    with Thomas Dinger and Hans Lampe playing drums on side 2.  

'Neu '75' 
full album:

All songs written and composed by Klaus Dinger and Michael Rother.

Side one
00:00 "Isi" 5:06
05:06 "Seeland" ("Sea Land") 6:54
12:01 "Leb' Wohl" ("Farewell") 8:50

Side two
20:52 "Hero"   7:11
28:03 "E-Musik" ("Ernste Musik") 9:57
38:01 "After Eight" 4:44

Thursday, May 28, 2015


The Breeders brought the essentials and burned the field completely with the scrabbled salty spawn of this glorious sparking hot wire supersister sideproject.   Sisters Kim and Kelley Deal performed under the name during the early 80's in Dayton, Ohio.  Feeling overshadowed by Black Francis in The Pixies, Kim revisited the moniker when she decided to record with Tanya Donelly from 4AD labelmates Throwing Muses (who was likewise eclipsed by her step-sister Krisin Hersh) after the bands had toured together.   A demo tape recorded with violinist Carrie Bradley (from Ed's Redeeming Qualities),  bassist Ray Halliday, and three different drummers (David Narcizo, Mickey Bones, and Carl Haarer) led to a deal with 4AD (the label for both The Pixies and Throwing Muses) for which label head Ivo Watts-Russell gave them a budget of $11,000 to record an album.   

Watts-Russell explains:   "If you’ve met Kim, you understand why a record where she got more of a focus than she did in the Pixies would be fun to do. She’s an eccentric woman, very individual. I wouldn’t say that anything she decided to do would have been okay, but pretty much anything she decided to do would have been okay."

At this point they brought in Josephine Wiggs from The Perfect Disaster to play bass.   Producer Steve Albini agreed to helm the project and suggested Britt Walford from Slint (who assumed a pseudonym for the project) as a drummer.   Following a week of rehearsals at Wiggs's house in Bedfordshire, England; they recorded 'Pod' in ten days at Palladium Studios in Edinburgh, Scotland.   The sessions featured Kim Deal on lead vocals and guitar;   Tanya Donelly on vocals and guitar;  Josephine Wiggs on vocals, bass, and Spanish guitar ;   Britt Walford (credited as Shannon Doughton) on vocals and drums;  Carrie Bradley on violin;   and Michael Allen on backing vocals.     

Deal demurs:  "Being from the Midwest and Ohio, I’ve been in basements when I was 17. No girls allowed in the band, definitely. I heard a lot of mustachioed riffs. I love Black Sabbath...There are people who really know how to work a fretboard and have spent years in the bedroom learning “Black Dog.” I prefer melody. If I had to choose between a simple melody and a really complicated rudiment sitting in the middle of a good song, I would prefer a simple melody every time...Pixies fans didn’t know about the Breeders. Maybe they did in England, but I don’t know. Josephine said, 'Because of the goodwill Kim had from the Pixies, she went ahead with Breeders.' And I don’t recognize that. I don’t think Pixies fans knew. For the longest time I don’t think people realized I was the same person."

 'Pod'  charted at number seventy-three in the Netherlands and number twenty-two in the UK.  Donelly would leave the band and Throwing Muses to form Belly.  Donelly jokes:   “The devil refuses to do business with me.  I’ve been very lucky to know the people I’ve known, and to choose and be chosen by some incredible songwriters and musicians and artists, starting with my amazing kickass sister and then all the good things that followed. I am always very consciously grateful for this, corny as that sounds ... [The formation of Belly] had more to do with the logistics of everyone releasing their songs. We had our outlets for that. There was never a point where I ever expected to start releasing those kinds of songs with Throwing Muses specifically. The Breeders was a different story. The genesis of that band was going to be that Kim would have an album and then the next one would be my songs. And in fact all of the demos for Star say “The Breeders” on them. Like, on the reels and on the boxes. Because that was supposed to be the second Breeders album originally...It was unnamed at that point, it wasn’t called “Star,” but those songs were all demoed under the Breeders name and Kim actually played on a few of the songs.


"When I Was A Painter" / short interview / "Iris"

full album:

All songs written and composed by Kim Deal, except where noted.

00:00 - Glorious (Deal, R. Halliday)
03:27 - Doe
05:35 - Hapiness Is A Warm Gun (Lennon–McCartney)
08:24 - Oh
10:54 - Hellbound
13:17 - When I Was A Painter
16:45 - Fortunately Gone
18:33 - Iris
22:05 - Opened
24:36 - Only In 3's (Deal, Donelly)
26:35 - Lime House
28:23 - Metal Man  (Deal, Wiggs)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

venus and mars

Paul McCartney and Wings found a way to go into alignment (no matter what the man said) with the rock show relics and magnetic melodicism of this strange vacation.  After the critical and commercial success of 'Band on the Run' the trio of Paul and Linda McCartney and Denny Laine expanded to include guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and drummer Geoff Britton.  Paul wanted to record in New Orleans in late 1974, but when Laine had trouble getting a visa, they started out recording at Abbey Road Studios in London.  When the project got to Louisiana, Britton was replaced by local musician Joe English.  The sessions took place at Allen Toussaint and Marshall Sehorn’s Sea-Saint Recording Studio in Gentilly while the band stayed at Le Richelieu Hotel in the French Quarter.  

Paul says:   "I'd never been to New Orleans, except on tour when we never saw anything except the inside of a trailer. The only thing I remembered about New Orleans was the vibrator bed in the motel and it was sweating hot. So we went down to New Orleans in search of a musical town and the weather. Then we found out Mardi Gras was on while we were there. I'd written most of the stuff before we got there and Jimmy had written one of the tracks with a mate of his. We'd been in Jamaica before we went to New Orleans and for the first time ever, I'd got all the songs together like a scroll that went from here to the end of the room. So I had all that together and we just went and turned up and started recording. With this new album I did this scroll thing and sat down and put one song there, and another song here. Fiddle about. Fiddle about. The only time I've done this before was on the mini-opera on Abbey Road, the only time I've sat down with four sheets of paper and put them in order."

'Venus and Mars'  features Paul McCartney on vocals, bass, guitars, keyboards, and piano;   Linda McCartney on keyboards and backing vocals;  Denny Laine on vocals, guitars, and keyboards;   Jimmy McCulloch on guitars and vocals;  Joe English on drums and percussion;  and  Geoff Britton and drums;   with  Kenneth "Afro" Williams on congas;  Dave Mason on guitar;  Tom Scott on saxophone;  and  Allen Toussaint on piano.  Additional recording took place at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco.  

Paul reveals:    ''When we had a party in the States to celebrate having finished the album, someone came up to us and said 'Hello, Venus. Hello, Mars.' I thought, 'Oh. no.'' When I write songs, I'm not necessarily talking about me, although psychoanalysts would say 'Yes, you are, mate.' But as far as I'm concerned, I'm not.  The song 'Venus and Mars' is about an imaginary friend who's got a girl friend who's into astrology, the kind of person who asks you what your sign is before they say hello. That's it, 'a good friend of mine studies the stars.' In fact, in the first verse, it's 'a good friend of mine follows the stars,' so it could be ambiguous, a groupie or an astrologer...I didn't even know they were our neighbouring planets. I just thought of naming any two planets. What were the first that came to mind? I thought, Jupiter, no, that doesn't fit... Saturn... no... Venus and Mars... that's great, I'll just put those in. Later, it turns out they've just done an eclipse, Venus and Mars have lined themselves up for the first time in something like a thousand years. I didn't know they were the gods of love and war, either, and I wasn't thinking about the Botticelli picture someone ( George Melly) asked about ... I know it's sort of a rock-and-roll album but' there's other things I like that aren't necessarily rock-and-roll.  On this LP I thought I'd like to get some of that in, so 'You Gave Me the Answer' is real fruity, imagining tie and tails, my impression of the Fred Astaire era ... ["Magneto and Titanium Man"] Yes, that's about Marvel Comics. When we were on holiday in Jamaica, we'd go into the supermarket every Saturday, when they got a new stock of comics in. I didn't use to read comics from eleven onwards, I thought I'd grown out of them, but I came back to them a couple of years ago. The drawings are great. I think you'll find that in twenty years time some of the guys drawing them were little Picassos. I think it's very clever how they do it. I love the names, I love the whole comic book thing...And I've been reading a bit of science fiction, things like Foundation by Asimov. I love the scope of it, the vision of it, because you can write anything. The second time 'Venus and Mars' comes around, it says 'Sitting in the hall of the Great Cathedral/Waiting for the transport to come.' That's like in science fiction books, waiting for the space shuttle. 'Starship 21ZNA9,' that's the kind of thing you'll find in Asimov. I like that, sitting in the Cathedral, really waiting for the saucer to come down, to take him off to Venus and Mars or whatever." 

'Venus and Mars'  reached number eleven in Germany and Italy; nine in Japan; five in the Netherlands; two in Australia; and number one in Canada, France, Norway, the UK, and the US.

"Listen to What the Man Said" was a top ten hit around the globe, and a number one smash in Canada and the US.

"Letting Go"

"Junior's Farm" – 4:23

"Lunch Box/Odd Sox"

'Venus and Mars'  
full album:

All songs written by Paul and Linda McCartney (listed as "McCartney"), except as noted.

1. Venus and Mars 0:00
2. Rock Show 1:17
3. Love in Song 6:48
4. You Gave Me the Answer 9:57
5. Magneto and Titanium Man 12:12
6. Letting Go 15:30

Side Two
7. Venus and Mars (Reprise) 20:02
8. Spirits of Ancient Egypt 22:07
9. Medicine Jar  (Jimmy McCulloch, Colin Allen) 25:01
10. Call Me Back Again 28:36
11. Listen to What the Man Said 33:22
12. Treat Her Gently/Lonely Old People 37:16
13. Crossroads Theme (Tony Hatch)  41:39