Thursday, 31 March 2016
Do I like this for what it is or that it shows off the great Timmy Thomas Track "Why Can't We Live Together" ? - not sure but if it opens it up to a new audience for any reason then i'm for it.
If you like it then seek out "You're A Song I've Always Wanted To Sing" by Timmy and the orginal b side of "Live Together" "Funky me"
Saturday, 19 March 2016
I was disappointed not to get tickets to see Adele this week but booked long ago were my tickets for Lianne La Havas at the RAH.
This was a major event for Ms La Havas and she was excited and humble at the chance to be there. This girl has it all. Great songs, tone, voice and attitude. She is working with a more than capable band and filled the room with her two excellent albums "Is Your Love Big Enough" and "Blood". The lighting was understated but complemented the mood and sounds and the crowd were quiet and respectful when needed and more reactionary when required.
Highlights for me were "Unstoppable" a song that took me sometime to embrace when it led the release of "Blood" but its slow build underpinning her soaring vocals was a thing to behold; "What You Don't Do" and "Green and Gold"; my favourite "Midnight" and, with tongue in cheek, "Old" evidence her understanding of engaging with her wider music buying public and showing that she isn't afraid to mix it up a bit between styles.
A "surprise later" was promised and those who have followed her probably dreamed of Prince appearing for some show stopping finale. More fittingly was the introduction of her school choir and the music teacher who was given credit for the early nurturing of this amazing talent. Fitting as it was, this was no simple nice gesture, as they worked their magic providing further room filling sounds to the already building band presence. Forget big star cameos this was a stroke of genius and a great way for a humble south London girl to payback those who contributed to where she is whilst giving something more to her audience.
two finales followed first with the choir and then a solo cover of "Say A Little Prayer" - the start of a verse fumbled, like a trouper she continued to the full approval of an audience won over. It was mesmerising (and can be heard on Soundcloud - I recommend it).
"Forget" is a rousing last song and a good way to end a real event of a night - it was obviously something to remember for Lianne La Havas as much as for those who witnessed it. A real gem of an evening.
Saturday, 28 June 2014
Bobby Womack has been part of my life since I was 13 - when I first heard "I Can Understand It". I began to search for his other work and found the goldmine of UA/Minit sides that made his name. It was only later that I found that this was his second coming. He had been on the gospel circuit since his early teens with his brothers as the Valentinos, he had written "It's All Over Now" which I knew only from the Stones' cover. He had been a protege of the great Sam Cooke. He fell from public grace upon marrying Cooke's widow but later restarted his career from the ground up with sessions on guitar and writing for the likes of Aretha, Wilson Picket, and Sly Stone etc. His live shows brought him back - with versions of standards such as "Fly Me To The Moon". That brought me up to date. I was lucky enough to see him at Hammersmith in '76 performing those great songs "Harry Hippie" a tribute to his wayward brother, "That's The Way I Feel About Cha" and "Woman's Gotta Have It". This resurrection coincided with the world taking soul for more than the 3 minute pleading singles and his "Communicaton" and "Understanding" albums are outstanding examples of the development of soul following the 60's heyday.
He dabbled with drugs and his addiction pulled him down with later albums producing good works but always falling short (for me) of those classics. He got it together and cut two blinding albums in "The Poet" and the "Poet 2" these again showed that he sits alongside Stevie, Marvin, even in my opinion Otis. His secret was songs - he then touched a nerve by packaging and passionate delivery. This is the essence of what soul is to me. In 1987 with "Only Survivor" album again bringing him to the fore he toured and I returned to Hammersmith to see him in his element with an audience engaged in all that had gone before and what was current. At that gig he invited Paul Young onto the stage to perform his then hit version of Hall & Oates "Everytime You Go Away" - Bobby's parts blew him off the stage as the master showed his powers, substance over form on a song that he should have recorded.
My first conversations with my wife were about music, Bobby was heavily featured on the tapes I made her and remain the soundtrack to much of my life. I return to those songs constantly.
I'm wasn't overwhelmed with the Damon Albarn sponsored Gorillaz collaboration or the "Bravest Man" album that brought him back to public consciousness - but that has more to do with what I'm comparing it with (and perhaps that era can never be repeated) but i'm grateful he was able to have that last hurrah - The great thing for me was that I finally saw my hero getting the high profile that he deserved - Glastonbury, Later with Jools, awards, press and above all deserved recognition. I saw him one last time in 2011 at the Jazz Cafe where he performed three nights in a venue holding about 400. This was just before the "Bravest Man" album surfaced and he whilst frail he could still belt out a tune. He would repeat his "old soul" set at Glastonbury in 2013 to much acclaim. He continued on the festival circuit and up until two weeks ago was still active performing at Bonnaroo.
There will be many more detailed (and better) obituaries written within the next few days. For me he has gone but I have him as a continuing companion in the sides that will stay with me always. He was known as the Preacher, The Last Soul Man and the Poet. He was all that and more to me.
You will find a number of other posts with Pick n Mixed about Bobby Womack.
Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Just read a great article from vox.com on the issue of the supposed Superiority of Vinyl. Let's face it you get something different from a CD or a download. It's a personal mix between hi-fidelity, convenience in acquiring and in playing and possibly your first experience of a particular track or album.
My listening time is now 80% on the move. my i-pod allows me to review my collection on the tube each morning and select whatever I want to hear. I know it sounds different to my vinyl or even CD copies but then Hi-Fi, docking station, computer speakers, Car systems, headphones, ear buds all add to the differences.
I happen to have a lot of CDs - some of which were bought as a first experience of, say, Amy Winehouse - to me CD is her natural home. Then again hearing the CD version of the Four Tops "Standing in the Shadows of Love" for the first time was a revelation as I'd always been used to the vinyl version on my mum's radiogram playing my older sisters scratched 45rpm. Which do i prefer - not sure?! Some tracks lose their "sound" if heard digitally. At the beginning of the CD era a number of classical releases had to be edited as exterior noises from the original concert halls could be heard under the new format, whereas they were previously hidden behind all that surface noise previously. But we got used to that didn't we. Radio broadcasts narrowed the sound - Berry Gordy ordered his engineers to play up the beat and the higher end percussion to meet the restrictions of radio play.
And so the argument can rattle on
And so the argument can rattle on
Of course vinyl is the cool item to own. But then again isn't it all about the music itself?
Saturday, 30 November 2013
A couple of weeks back I saw Lisa Stansfield at the Indig02. I was a fan of hers from the Coldcut collaboration "People Hold On " that introduced her to the world but a series of albums that followed proved she was no part player and not only had a great set of pipes but could write nifty tune as well.
I'd not seen her live and given the passing of time wondered how her voice would stand up and what I was going to get for my money. No worries there - all the fab songs from her heyday were there - still great tunes, still performed with a great voice (with an added new tone which enhances rather than disappoints). At an early point we got the "here's a new song..." but frankly this lady hasn't lost any of her craft. These new tunes "the conversation" and particularly for me "Stupid Heart" fitted well with her set and certainly held up (or more) with the past glories. "Stupid Heart" could be an old southern soul classic - and needs to be covered by a Mavis Staples or a rejuventaed Aretha (if only she would re-emerge).
On checking the web I found a very similar set from earlier this year at the Java Jazz festival and then coincidentally saw that she was appearing on daytime TV. I Sky+ it and found her live performance of "Heart" once again thrilling.
A new album is due early next year - can't wait. For those who want her classic sound there is the obvious hits compilation and then the best album of her career "Real Love" which I couldn't live without - Yes Brits do soul very well thank you.
Friday, 16 August 2013
Brilliant biog of one of the great Record Men of the boom period of the 70s and 80s. Yetnikoff took Columbia from the reshaped position left by Clive Davis to top of the market then led the sale of Columbia to Sony. This is a great read - flawed genius meets the excesses of the age. The financial rewards in the business at the time drove the lifestyle and the outrageous behaviour reflected in stories of record industry legend. Read this after or before hitting Stan Cronyn's "Exploding" which is the story of arch rival label Warner Brothers. During the early 80s Yetnikoff used the legend "Fuck the Bunny" to rally his troops at sales conferences to beat Warners to the top spot. This reflects the era and the man. Ritz is effective as ever bringing out the human side of a driven individual. A fun and fascinating read.
Tuesday, 2 July 2013
Great Glasto this year. particularly enjoyed Of Monsters and Men; Haim; Gabriella Aplin; Jesse Ware; Bobby (of course) and Chic - all from the comfortable campsite that is my sofa.
The Stones and Mumfords are still on my SkyBox!
Wednesday, 6 March 2013
No it wasn't all flares, space hoppers, afros and punks. Neither was it prog rockers , Glam and all frivolous fun. The 70's was a fab decade but one of political and social change - much of it reflected in the mass media arts of music, film and TV. This book is a year by year trawl through what happened and when. It takes me back to my formative years (I was 13 in 1971 ) when adults seemed miserable and brow beaten by life in general - they had good cause - with the rise of UK mainland terrorism; strikes, blackouts and raging inflation. Teenagers, a second generation if you will from the Summer Of Love period (hippies behind them) saw the new world very differently. I would recommend this book to anyone but for those of you of a similar age - this and it's fiction counterpart, The Rotters Club are great reads and will take you back to a very real image of a decade of major social change in this country.
Monday, 31 December 2012
As a young teenager I was seen as having odd taste by my school friends as Marv was my hero and not some glammed up pop star like Bowie, Slade or Marc Bolan. Still after all these years you can see I was right! Such a cool dude.