A great choice of Google doodle today celebrating what would have bee BB King’s 94th birthday. Of the many descriptors used for guitar tone, I think BB is the only one whose tone I would describe as ‘sweet’.

If you like BB I highly suggest you check out the BBC iPlayer… those outside UK may need to use your creative methods… and check out a documentary called Sounding Out which is 25 minutes long and is footage and interview from a recording session with BB, in London, from 1972. One man, one guitar, one amp, and a whole load of talent.

Happy birthday BB!

Back in November 2015, on the WTF podcast, Marc Maron interviewed Robert Trujillo (Metallica bass player) and Flea. Trujillo had made a documentary about, self-appointed greatest bass player in the world, Jaco Pastorius… turns out he was the greatest! In the course of the interview they discussed a phenomenon that I am all too familiar with because it’s happened to me a number of times.

So what is it? Well, it’s when you have a band or an artist that you really like and then, for some reason, you find yourself not liking the individuals any more and you’re now left in a situation where it’s difficult to listen to the music because there’s always the spectre of the artists hanging over it.

It’s happened to me on three occasions:

The Police – or more specifically Sting. I’ve been in to them since 1980 and it was sometime after Ten Summoner’s Tales that I just got fed up with Sting’s preaching to people but, more specifically, I got hacked off with how he always seemed to go to great pains to try and minimise Stewart and Andy’s contribution to the band. When the reunion happened he seemed to be a total diva. This was the artist that Flea said he’d experienced this with although he didn’t elaborate on why.

Frank Zappa – to a lesser extent than Sting but, nevertheless, in the last 10 or 15 years (can’t believe it’s nearly 26 years since he died) it’s become more and more apparent that FZ was a bit of a douche. Not sure why this bothers me particularly given that a bunch of his band members wrecked his last tour (just desserts?) but, there you go…

Edward Van Halen – I’ve played guitar for about 33 years and Eddie was the one who inspired my to go from just playing songs to actually aspiring to be a lead guitarist. VH were a fantastic band – I like both Dave and Sammy eras. I moved on after ‘For Unlawful…’. Although I didn’t follow them through the Gary Cherone era, and watched, with amusement, from afar regarding the in fighting that developed, I was still able to enjoy the first 9 albums… BUT… when Mike was kicked out to be replaced by Eddie’s son on bass I thought that was a dick move. That said, Mike seemed to be OK and promptly formed a supergroup with Sammy, Joe Satriani and Chad Jones. Then, when Eddie started running Mike down publicly and minimising his contribution to the band I soured on Eddie. His drink problems are well known about and, I guess, maybe this was him being bitter that he was no longer viewed as the king of rock guitar. Even the most ardent fan would have to admit they haven’t really done anything new or significant since the mid 90s.

This seems to be becoming a more common phenomenon – I’ve heard people commenting that present day Morrisey has soured them on the Smiths. I sometimes struggle with Miles Davis due to his tendency to have song authorship credited solely to him when you know he didn’t write it… Blue In Green? Grrr.

Maybe this is due to the fact that we just get too much information about artists that we like. Seems that in the 80s/90s you didn’t know as much about the artists that you liked beyond liner notes and music magazines. That may have been a good thing.

In closing, happy to say that I recently heard a Sting song from Dream of the Blue Turtles – Fortress Around Your Heart – and was able to enjoy it again. Ended up buying the CD (5 bucks!) as I’d only ever had it on tape. It’s still a great album.

Sting may be about to be granted parole! Here’s a live performance from the subsequent Dream of the Blue Turtles tour…

This is a great piece by Ted Gioia. If you don’t know him, he wrote a great book called ‘The History of Jazz’ (1997) that is a great read. I was given it as a gift when it came out – I’d never heard of him and, to be honest, haven’t heard much since. I recently stumbled across his YouTube channel – he has less than 700 subscribers and this video has less than 5000 views.

I don’t think Ted is doing it for the views. Given the regular discussions that come up about streaming services – physical media or streaming, which streaming service is the best – this may be of interest. It’s only 10 minutes long and it takes a wider view of what streaming might mean for music and, indeed, what it might mean for visual media too.

For the record (pun absolutely intended!), I’m with Ted on this one.

Someone (forget who) recently posted about the inability to have liner notes with streaming services. I’m not a user of streaming servs, but recently got the 70th anniversary vinyl reissue, from original tapes, of Birth of the Cool. Two discs with 16 pages of awesome liner notes. Actually a booklet in gatefold, with amazing reproductions of band pictures. The quality is amazing, and comes with a new essay about the recording. I’d definitely miss this on streaming!

50 years on, and after all of the technological advances since, the moon landing still seems like cutting edge stuff. With all of the scifi films where ships are like large motor homes with all of the comforts from home, and journeys across the galaxy seem to take a few hours it’s easy to forget that it wouldn’t be a far cry to describe this adventure as three guys stuffed in a cupboard, strapped to a controlled bomb, before being thrown at another planet and hoping to hit it. Here’s to the geniuses that made it happen, in space and on the ground.

I love the Eno album, it’s quite zen, and really gives you an impression of how quiet/lonely I imagine it must have felt like. But then… what do I know.

The Public Service Broadcasting album is a 10/10 album. From the opener, which uses Kennedy’s speech, it’s totally engaging. ‘The Other Side’ is fabulous and the section in the middle when Apollo 8 has gone behind the moon, and is out of touch with Mission Control, is done so well you have to remind yourself to breathe. I’m sure most people will know the album. Give it another listen today. If you haven’t heard it, get a copy… NOW!… there is no more auspicious day to give it a first listen than today.

TO INFINITY AND BEYOND! What do you mean that wasn’t Neil Armstrong…

This is a summary of what has recently come to light regarding a Universal Music Group fire in 2008 when a LOT of music master tapes were lost. This is the music equivalent of the fire at the library at Alexandria.

A longer discussion about this was was posted by Rick Beato (about a week later) talking about what this might mean for music fans, foe Universal, and also for artists. A fair point made is that Universal seem to be more active ‘protecting’ their music by issuing ‘take downs’ against people on YouTube than in actually protecting the original music tapes.

If you’ve ever watched Rick Beato’s ‘What Makes This Song Great’ videos you’ll see the advantage in being able to access original tapes where you can isolate particular instruments or vocal performances. Consequently, I think there is going to be a big impact on scholarly activity, particularly in relation to 20th century black music in America as well as the golden age of rock and pop.

You can watch the longer discussion here…

This is exactly what it looks like… weird. A one man production, literally recorded in his garden shed in Hull over a 6 year period (’79-’85) and released as a cassette advertised in the back of computer magazines. Those were the days, eh?

It’s a home written and recorded War of the Worlds type affair where all of the characters, including the aliens, have various Hull-type accents. What starts off being quite twee actually grabs your attention and becomes really enjoyable and all the more amazing for the fact that there was clearly no big budget or production team, and this is waaaaay before Garageband. It was all done on a Tascam 8-track,

It ultimately came to the attention of Trunk Records years later… indeed, in the next century!, and it was given a remaster and a limited release on vinyl (500 copies). I managed to snag one and it has pride of place in my record collection. Although sold out, you can download an mp3 version from Trunk Records website for £4.99. It runs to nearly 90 minutes in total so that’s not a bad deal.

If you want some more info I’d suggested checking out Trunk Records at https://trunkrecords.greedbag.com/buy/galactic-nightmare-0/ and there’s some additional information at http://trunkrecords.com/turntable/galactic_nightmare.shtml

If you search on Galactic Nightmare on YouTube, it’s actually been uploaded in 4 parts if you want to check it out.

No idea what happened to the author though.

Was never really in to the band, but remember the song from my time at Uni. Great version.

Only found out a few years ago that they were a Scottish band, from Bellshill. Bellshil is not a glamorous location and yet has produced The Soup Dragons, Teenage Fanclub, some of the members of Mogwai and, sadly, Sheena Easton. To be fair, Sheena was the first from this list to come out of Bellshill so it’s been improvement ever since. I’ll spare Sheena any more criticism and not talk about The Big Day festival in Glasgow, in 1990, when… oops.

Anyway, congratulations to The Cousins, as our chums across the pond are referred to in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, on their big day. Have a groove with the Soup Dragons.

King Creosote, otherwise known as Kenny Anderson or KC, is something of an enigma who built a whole scene, in the 1990s, around his record label (Fence Records) and his home stomping ground of the East Neuk in Fife, Scotland. Most notable to come out of the scene were the Beta Band (yes, THAT Beta Band… Gordon Anderson is his younger brother), and KT Tunstall.

KC is almost as well known for his reluctance to leave Fife as he is for how prolific he is as a songwriter. I’ve had a quick stock check and I have 4 albums by his first band Skuobhie Dubh Orchestra (yes, it’s cod Gaelic and meant to be pronounced like the Hanna Barbera ghost hunting dog); 2 albums by his next band Khartoum Heroes (first band with name change after threatened legal action… sounds like Cartoon Heroes!); and 42 albums and 4 EPs under his own KC pseudonym… and I am still missing at least a dozen albums. Themes and tropes abound in the KC back catalogue but, above all, there is some excellent songwriting.

For me, his finest album is ‘From Scotland With Love’ which was written to accompany a documentary film for the Cultural Festival partnering the Commonwealth Games in 2014. It’s not a jingoistic album, in line with popular sentiments in many countries currently, but rather a look at various historical periods in Scotland through the use of archive film footage… so, no William Wallace then. It’s also unique because it doesn’t focus on the well off who usually had access to early film and photographic technology but, instead, on the everyday people who worked in the shipyards, down the mines, fishing and farming. It also covers key events such as emigration, and also the Battle of George Square, 1919 – the last time the Riot Act was read in the United Kingdom.

The film was premiered on Glasgow Green during the games with KC and a large band (14 piece?) accompanying the film in best silent movie fashion. It was a tremendous event… free entry, and was subsequently released on DVD and CD/vinyl.

The track above, Miserable Strangers, deals with emigration. Happening not that long, historically speaking, after the clearances. If the words, music and pictures don’t move you I can’t help you. You’re a rock.

Get the album, you won’t regret it. Even better, get the film. Heck, buy them both. The setting and history is clearly Scotland but the themes are universal.

Bob Reynolds is a tenor sax player who has an established track record under his own name, and also plays with Snarky Puppy. This is a gig that was recorded at the last minute, both high quality video and audio, and subsequently released as an album to buy with the video being put on Bob’s YouTube channel.

I ordered the CD which also gives access to high quality MP3s (for the iPod) and a variety of other file formats including FLAC.

It’s not what my wife would describe as ‘crazy jazz’ but is 6 tracks of predominantly mid tempo, blues influenced tracks. Maybe think more along the lines of Kenny Burrell and Grant Green rather than John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins.

He’s joined by his Snarky bandmate Mark Lettieri as one of the two guitar players. In the videos he’s the one with the blue Strat style guitar. The drums and bass are particularly grooving on this album.

Give it a listen. You don’t even have to buy it, just watch the videos on Bobs channel. That said, he’s released this independently and as you can see from his vlog (lots of posts, VERY interesting) the guy’s a working musician so, if you like the music, maybe do him a solid.

Meantime, check out the video of Blues for Charlie

Blues For Charlie