A Tune a Day…J

The Jompson Brothers
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Of late, I’ve broadened my musical horizons into what could be described as “Modern Country”. I’ve also read it described as “Roots rock” and “Americana”. I’m sure the truth is somewhere in-between. In all honesty, it’s something that I never really thought I’d enjoy as much as I do. Here’s a few recommendations before we get to the “J” entry itself.
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Sturgill Simpson’s “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth” (2016). Great vocals and so much more than a country album. The addition of strings and horns as well as a cover of Nirvana’s “In Bloom” really takes things to a whole different level. He’s also pissed off the Nashville “Royalty” which I quite like.
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Drive-By Truckers – American Band (2016) The album was released before Trump won. The sentiments are pretty much the same on this “politically charged” album.
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Jason Isbell- Something More Than Free (2015) – Once of the aforementioned Drive-by Truckers, Isbell has went on to release 5 albums under his own name. Something More Than Free is excellent. There’s a nicely-filmed, full concert, right here
Finally, The Jompson Brothers. Before Chris Stapleton was a 20-year, overnight success story with his album “Traveller” (new album out in a couple of weeks BTW), he’d been dipping his toes into a few different sounding musical ventures. The Jompson Brothers (none of whom are related or called Jompson, of course) had that classic rock feel about them. They only released the one album and it seems to have been “here today, gone tomorrow” kinda thing. I rather like it.

A Tune a Day…I

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After some technical ups and downs of the past few days, I’m back with a few more alphabetically-themed musical treats.

I’ve recently discovered “Intergalactic Lovers” who hail from Aalst, Belgium. As is often the way of things these days, the first tune that I’d heard from them was featured on a TV show called “The Team”. A multi-country produced, cop-type show.

The song itself is a pleasant, mostly acoustic affair, and the female lead vocals balance nicely with the rest of the band’s pop sensibilities.

Intergalactic Lovers – Northern Rd.

This got me thinking about some other Belgian artists that were also worth a shout. The first I remember hearing were dEUS, just can’t quite remember what their “big” song was, but do remember them being in and around The Top 40 once or twice.

dEUS – Suds & Soda

Another favourite of mine are Black Box Revelation. I remember playing a couple of their tunes on “Cut Me Some Slack” back in the day. However, they’ve since disappeared off the map and with no new music in sight. Maybe that guitar/drums duo thing has run its course? Cool video too.

Black Box Revelation – “My Perception”

If you’re a fan of Bluegrass, (and if you’re not, then what’s wrong with you?) there was a great Belgian movie called The Broken Circle Breakdown which also had a wonderful accompanying soundtrack. It will make you cry…

“The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn” -The Broken Circle Breakdown

It’d be remiss of me not to mention Jacques Brel. David Bowie recorded a version of Amsterdam, as well as Scot Walker and many others covering his work. To see it performed in it’s original language is quite something.

Jacques Brel – Amsterdam

 

A Tune a Day…H

Have you ever seen a band or an artist play in a small, smokey club? Maybe they were first on the bill or were so ordinary that you’d be forgiven for thinking that there was a band playing in the first place? I believe that’s the time when many punters will “hit the bar” and wait for the Headliner.

I had to check, but I think this was August or September 1986, and I was at The Barrowlands in Glasgow to see one of the popular beat combos of the day -The Housemartins. They’d just had a huge hit earlier in the year with “Happy Hour”, a jaunty, jangly, 2 minutes-and-change tune that’d gone high in the charts. They only rleased 2 albums before morphing into “The Beautiful South” and having many, many more hits.

Two things of note about The Housemartins. First, Norman Cook aka Fatboy Slim was the bass player. Whatever happened to him? Secondly, the original drummer was sentenced to 6 years in jail for arson. Kinda sad…https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Whitaker

The Housemartins – Happy Hour

So, we’re at the gig, and first one were a local band called “The Crows”. Not The Black, nor Stone The, or even Counting…just simply, The Crows. Later on, I’d pick up a couple of their records but they were somewhere between The Cult and a mish-mash of Goth Rock. They were great, one of those bands you see supporting, remember the name, but never quite hit the big time.

Next up, was an extra addition to the lineup, an acoustic duo called “The Proclaimers”. Remember, this is a few months from their breakthrough “Letter From America” (produced by Gerry Rafferty no less) and they went down like a turd in a fishtank. It wasn’t just their nerdy-twinness that was freaking people out (Auchermuchty no more etc…) but they seemed nervous, somewhat lacking in that “banter with the crowd”, and to be honest, a bit out of their depth. I don’t think, or at least I don’t remember thinking that “these guys’ll go far”. Probably, far from it, but hey, good luck to them. They’ve done alright for themselves.

The Housemartins were late for the show. Like, super-late. It was a Wednesday night and they’d been filming for Top of The Pops which went out the following day. Glasgow crowds weren’t noted for their understanding or compassionate nature and didn’t really like to be kept waiting or be messed about (Beastie Boys Licence to Ill Tour is another that comes to mind). However, we got there in the end. I really don’t remember that much of The Housemartins set (it was 30 years ago…) but I always had a bit of a soft spot for the band.

The Housemartins – Flag Day

A Tune a Day…G

A Tune a Day…G

Grant-Lee Phillips – “The Narrows”
I first came across Grant-Lee Phillips in the early-90’s with his band “Grant Lee Buffalo”. In fact, I can remember being in the public library and browsing through the cds there, picking it up, taking it home and being particularly pleased with my pre-Hipster Hipster’s choice.
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They also had that “just what genre are they?” vibe to their records. I’ve seen them listed as Americana, Alt-Rock, Alt-Country…I’m still not sure if I’m 100% on putting music into category boxes, just for the sake of making it easier for the online consumer to work out. I still like the idea of working it out for myself…
Late 2015, and on my never-ending quest for quality music for the show, I’d read that Grant-Lee Phillips was releasing a new album – “The Narrows”. Handily enough, all the tracks from the album were later released on GLP’s Youtube page. Free. Gratis. I still feel a little disappointed when I see how many (or in this case how few) “views” it has. Sadly, it seems to be how we measure things these days?
I liked “The Narrows” a lot. It definitely had more of a Nashville feel to it (he’s moved there from LA) and would indeed sit comfortably in the Americana and Alt-Country section of any good record shop. His own story is pretty unique and he often adds that bit of spirituality to his music.
I’ve added a couple of my favourites from the record. The first of which appeared in another movie that I’ve not seen – “Logan”. I hope Grant-Lee Phillips does well from it and brings us some more new music in the not too distant.

A Tune a Day…F

Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac- The Green Manalishi

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I was reading a couple of weeks back that it was the 30th anniversary of the Fleetwood Mac’s “Tango in the Night”. Shit. 30 years. As the old cliche laments, “where did all the time go?”.
It’s not a bad album by any means and I like Lindsey Buckingham’s work, as well as that of the others in fits and starts. $90 on Amazon will see you get a 5-disc party pack that’ll be sure to pop and fizzle away. “Rumours” is still a better album.
Personally, I was always more of a Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac kinda guy. When Green first appeared in the mid-60’s, first with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers (replacing Eric Clapton, and in the opinion of many, is the better player, but that’s for another day), then setting up shop with Mick Fleetwood, John McVie et al.
What set Peter Green apart was that he was more than just a “blues covers man”. He was a prolific writer (alongside the other members of the band) with songs such as “Stop Messin’ Round”, “Albatross”, and of course, “Black Magic Woman”, “The Green Manalishi” and so many more. And of course, there’s the the guitar playing.
Peter Green is perhaps known as a prototype guitar prodigy who suffered much personal turmoil, including a deep plunge into drugs, several years “being lost”, and ultimately, a quite miraculous recovery from it all. The documentary “Peter Green Man of the World” details his remarkable story.

“He has the sweetest tone I ever heard; he was the only one who gave me the cold sweats.” – BB King on hearing Peter Green

A Tune a Day…E

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros – “If I Were Free”

If I Were Free (Live at the Lewes Stopover 2013)

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Sometimes, straight off the bat, the first few words of a song just reach out and grab you. Forget about the usual suspects – hook, riff, or melody. There are times when the words just jump off the page.

If I were free
I would run into battles with flowers and hugs
And bow at the boots of our well-oiled thugs
Yes, if I were free

If it were me
I would yell out “I love you!” to all I passed
I would disrobe and disco and rip off my mask

Alex Ebert (or Edward Sharpe if you like…) started out in a band I’d never heard of called Ima Robot. Let’s just say I prefer this new, more “Gentleman of The Road” persona that he’s found with the Magnetic Zeros.

If you’re a fan of Mumford and Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show, or just like a bunch of hippies on a train playing bluegrass tunes, you’ll enjoy “Big Easy Express”. The documentary features all three bands on tour – with the added bonus of them on their own, unique, musical journey.

Big Easy Express

A Tune a Day…D

A Tune a Day…D

Dawes – From A Window Seat

Let’s stick with something from California and have a double from Dawes.

I first came across the band with their 2013 album ‘Stories Don’t End’ and since then they’ve been an ever-present on my playlist. Simply put, I think Taylor Goldsmith, the lead singer (and main songwriter for the band) tells great stories in his songs. The band together also add really nice harmonies, perhaps something synonymous (or coincidental) with the “Laurel Canyon sound” that they’re noted for. A claim that the band themselves refute.

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Their next album, 2015’s All Your Favorite Bands followed in a similar vain, but it was last year’s prohetically-gloomy titled “We’re All Gonna Die” where the band certainly took a bit of a musical detour and tried to rid themselves of that smooth, sunny, Californian vibe. I thought it was a bit up-and-down, patchy, and trying a bit too hard at times to set itself apart from their earlier efforts. 

Dawes – Things Happen (Live From An Evening With Dawes)

Upon checking their Youtube page, I see that they’ve uploaded a bunch of tunes from their “We’re All Gonna LIVE” tour. (see what they’ve done there?) and I’m looking forward to adding them to that playlist.

  • Special mention for the bands “Delta Spirit” and “Middle Brother”.