A trip to London

Let me tell you about the trip I made to London in May. Besides the fact that you don’t need a reason to go on a holiday, there were two why I went that long weekend: To have a reunion with the people I’ve met in Botswana 6 years ago, and music. On the first day I went to the Pink Floyd exhibition in V&A. It was very interesting and fascinating to see all these objects and instruments and letters and to learn about the Floyd. I already knew a lot because of the biography by Nick Mason, but I could’ve walked around there for hours. You weren’t allowed to, because at the end of the tour there was a highlight: Laying on the floor listening to and watching the Pink Floyd reunion concert of 2005. Heaven on earth right there!


But the day wasn’t over yet! That evening I went to the Royal Albert Hall to see another legend: Eric Clapton. It was very cool to be in a place you know so many talented people have played back in the day, like Led Zeppelin and CCR. It is actually a quite intimate venue and the concert was amazing! Eric wasn’t in the spotlight all the time, he made sure we got to see the talent of each member of his band. (The two backing singers were amazing on I shot the sheriff!) It was pure magic seeing this man perform, I was also reading his autobiography at the time, which made me feel like I knew him just a little better.

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The next day I was on a mission to buy some vinyl. I found the records at Portobello Market a bit overpriced, but got some great stuff in Soho in stores like Sister Ray and Reckless Records. I even bought this one record simply because it had Magritte art on the cover, turns out, it was by a harmonica hero called Little Walter! I was hoping to find some Terry Reid records, but every store owner told me they are hard to find. When they do make it to the store, they sell instantly. Good to know I’m not the only fan.

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London, always a pleasure!

 

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Discoveries II

I’ve just finished ‘Hotel California’ by Barney Hoskyns, a book about the music scene of USA’s West Coast, from the mid 60’s ’til the mid 70’s. It was very interesting to learn about L.A.’s best years, about the two most important clubs (the Troubadour and the Roxy), about this big record label man called David Geffen, and about so many talented people who got a record deal and therefore a chance at trial and error, to learn from this and get better, and ultimately become successful! The book concludes how this was such a unique time and all who were present are very lucky to have been a part of it, but if there’s one important thing I’ve learned, it’s that it wasn’t all glitter and glamour. Ego and drugs and money have destroyed a lot. Sometimes it was a very lonely existence, to be a rock star. Everything seemed so empty, relationships and money and possessions, everything but the music.

Though the main characters in the book were Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Joni Mitchell and The Eagles, I also got to know a lot of new old artists. Here are my two favorite discoveries:

 

Of course I’d heard For what it’s worth before (“Stop hey what’s that sound”) but I never knew this was a band containing Stephen Stills and Neil Young! Will definitely look more into the work of Buffalo Springfield.

Loving this version by Gram Parsons! (Though some say he actually co-wrote it, Keith Richards was a friend of his.) You can definitely feel the sadness in the voice of this tragic figure, who died age 26.

But yes, let’s end this post with an amazing live version of the song that represents the West Coast’s golden era the best, the rise and decay.

High Hopes

The time has come. Ladies and Gentlemen, my second most favorite band is –it is so cliché but it’s true– Pink Floyd! I can’t say I know all the songs by heart, like I do with Zeppelin, or that I love all of them, but their music is beyond this world.  It takes you somewhere far away, it is comforting and disturbing, it is Floyd. I started listening to them at the same time I was discovering Zeppelin, and though they didn’t blow me away immediately, I bought myself the Discovery Box for Christmas. Listening to the early albums in the dark (I used to be too cheap to turn on the light) was very frightening. Listening to later work was magical. Their albums are journeys, you can’t really listen to just one track, you need to hear the whole package. Still I want to share some of the pieces with you tonight. (You gotta listen in the evening, with hardly any light on.)

This is pure genious. If anyone knows a more HQ version, I’d be happy to hear it!

I love love love this version from the ‘Live at Pompeii’ (1972) DVD! Got it for only €5, best thing ever!!

Seeing this makes me so happy. Very glad they did a reunion concert in 2005, even though I wasn’t a fan yet back then, just so I can listen to this version of Comfortably Numb. Best. Guitar solo. Ever.

It’s extremely difficult to choose only a few songs, but if there is one I just HAVE to share with the world, it’s the next one. First, I do not like the Final Cut (1983) album at all, it’s the only one where I simply pressed fast forward. The band was falling apart, Roger was mad, and he remained so for a long time. I do not care for his attitude, even so today. Though there is no denying he WAS Pink Floyd, so were the others. Yes David took it to a more mellow style after they continued to use the Floyd name, and maybe it wasn’t as good as their previous work, but this one song just kills me every single time. It’s the last track on their last album The Division Bell (1994), at least, before they released the post Rick album The Endless River (2014) –title taken from a line in this song. It can still make me cry sometimes, makes my heart jump out of my chest. I want this played at my funeral, and at my wedding, or just any other day of my life. I am IN LOVE with High Hopes.

Their music has really grown on me and still is continuing to do so. I would like to get to know their earlier work a bit better, understand Syd’s vision before David joined in. They are so versatile, the albums are all so different! I was fortunate enough to see David Gilmour last year and so I had a little taste of the live experience! Thank you legend for playing my favorite song. By the way, the book written by Nick Mason, ‘Inside Out’, is a real treat! I’ve never had a biography make me laugh out loud so many times!

The girls

As I’ve mentioned, the female singers are seriously (like SERIOUSLY) outnumbered when it comes to my taste in music. Were there so few who made it onto the big scene back then? Or do I just prefer men singing? I know I’ve had more male bands or singer-songwriters blow me away than women. That’s why I’d like to put those handful in the spotlight here:

Grace Slick must be the most powerful singer to me, so effortlessly. No doubt the best female voice of that era.

Stevie Nicks, little hippie with the bad hairdo. Good performance!

I don’t like all of Janis Joplin‘s repertoire, but you must give it to her: she sings with an incredible amount of feeling and power. As if every song is the last one she’ll ever sing. (Is that Mama Cass in the crowd at the end looking flabbergasted?)

Something totally different. Looking up more of Mimi Fariña’s stuff, I came across a performance of her singing 500 miles. I knew I’ve heard it before so I looked up more versions and found the original one, written by this folksinger called Hedy West. This kinda music always makes me think of old movies, very American voice and feel, must be the banjo. Will be the first folk album I buy. Check out 500 miles, and the version by The Journeymen is also worth a listen!

If anyone can recommend more female singers of that time, feel free to post them below. (I do not seem to like very high pitched voices, like Joni Mitchell, or even Mimi Fariña solo… Joan Baez didn’t do it for me either, though her lyrics are good.)

Discoveries

I like to read a lot about the music industry in the 60’s and 70’s, and so I stumbled upon a book by Joe Boyd called ‘White Bicycles – Making music in the 1960s’. Boyd was an American music producer known for starting the famous psychedelic underground club UFO in London and he produced records by Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Nick Drake, and so on. The guy has a story to tell! Thanks to his book, I’ve discovered a lot of bands I hadn’t heard of before. Here are the ones that triggered me into listening to more of their work:

Normally I’m not very fond of female singers, or too folksy stuff, but these two sound just perfect together!

Yup, Jeff’s dad. I’ve heard his name before, but never cared to look up his music. I sure did miss out on some goodness! They were both just as talented, that’s for sure! (Already bought their biography, very curious.)

To me this feels like the Stones meet the Animals. Good voice, good rock ‘n’ roll.

Mm yes, them sweet blues…

I’m always happy as a camper when I’ve discovered some new old band, so I hope you’ve heard something new here too!

Short but sweet

Another one of my favorite bands is Creedence Clearwater Revival. They’re something quite different, more catchy tunes and country sauce all over the rock ‘n’ roll, with good lyrics and another wonderful growling voice. It’s a shame the band only existed for a couple of years, but man, did they produce some great albums! I’ve got Willy and the Poor Boys (1969) on vinyl and I really love the ending track:

There’s a little scratch around the last minute so this song just keeps going when I play it. It’s kinda nice to have it not end, but also sad not having it end properly.

The reason I’m writing this post, is because yesterday I went to the ‘John Fogerty 1969 show’. He didn’t want to play any CCR songs for a long time after the band broke up, just to keep his old record company from making any more money out of him, but today he’s playing them with pride! After reading ‘Bad Moon Rising: The unauthorized biography of Creedence Clearwater Revival’ by Hank Bordowitz, I kinda got the impression John Fogerty was a grumpy and bitter man, yet a musical genius. So seeing this happy, lively, excited and funny 72-year-old, was very strange. He’d be running around, jumping like a kid who just crawled onto a stage for the first time, telling great stories like the one about Woodstock.
The show started with a long film being projected on a white curtain, it was about the importance of 1969 and we got to see images of the band or articles about them, and clips of John singing and giving an interview. After a while I started thinking: This was all a joke; we’re not getting to see him play live, just clips! But then there was an old clip of him singing, and the curtain fell down, and there he was, singing it right now! I was glad to hear his voice hadn’t gone too bad, you could still hear the young John in there. The band was very good, consisting of his son and also a very weird but talented piano player. All the band members got their moment in the spotlight sometime during the show, which seemed like a contrast to the way John used to want to be CCR by himself and the other members didn’t matter very much to him. Anyway, it was nice to hear all their hits again (they had nothing but hits), often with longer guitar solo’s, which I love. The only minor thing was that there were too many visual effects, like John was trying to cover up the fact that he isn’t 20 anymore and his voice will never reach the same levels. The music didn’t need all that extra, the songs are masterpieces, every single one of them! And how amazing it was to hear them live. I enjoyed a very good performance and am glad to have been able to see another 60’s /70’s legend!

He didn’t play this last night, but at that first “becaaaause” I still get goosebumps… Man the power in his voice! He sure is unique.

My crooked tower of joy

Finally! It’s here!! My dad had promised me his old music system months ago, and now it is officially mine!!! I had bought a record player last year and it spent a long time collecting dust. I have been buying records, not sure when I’d be able to play them, but here we go! It’s on! First I had Moanin’ in the moonlight (1959) by Howlin’ Wolf on, then Roy Harper’s Stormcock (1971), an album called Thunderbird (1971) with a collection of Little Walter tracks, and just now the live album The Delicate Sound Of Thunder (1988) by Pink Floyd. Life is good when you’ve got some fine speakers and a small but wicked record collection. Embracing the vinyl times! (Now just have to find a set-up or some other way to make it fit in with my interior…)

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Hidden treasure

Digging into the history of Led Zeppelin, you can’t help but read about when Jimmy Page wanted to start a new band and first asked this young guy if he’d be lead singer, but the fella declined because he had other commitments, and instead recommended Robert Plant. This guy was called Terry Reid, and when I looked up some of his songs, I was instantly in love! His vocals are just right op there with Plant’s, and even though people will call him crazy for ‘missing’ a huge shot at fame and stardom, I think it was for the best. Terry was not made to be a front man in glitter suits to a massive group, letting someone else do all the guitar work. He was a born singer-songwriter. He toured with the Stones when he was just a teenager and Graham Nash produced one of his albums. He had tons of potential, so it’s a terrible shame that he never got the recognition he deserved! He had some trouble with his manager Micky Most and so was unable to play his own music for quite some time. Still, I find it shocking how nobody knows him! It sort of became my mission to spread his music and have people acknowledge the genius that is Terry Reid!
Like Robert Plant, he had a powerful voice that has lost it’s strength over the years. Yet he also still performs! But let me introduce you to his stuff when he was on top of the game: From the start, my favorite song was Seed of Memory (1976), from the same-name album that was produced by Graham Nash. His voice just sends shivers up my spine, especially in the final lines. He was such a strong vocalist and lyricist, and this song proves it.

Now this Donovan cover from the 1969 Terry Reid album is why he got his nickname: ‘Superlungs’

Just one more! (For now, because he has so many great songs and covers, it’s ridiculous!) This song always reminds me of driving up the Big Sur coastline, when I was introducing my hosts there to his music. The sun was setting, we were tired after a long day, but still a little excited about seeing wales pass by. I was happy in that moment, and I love this song not just for the memory it holds, but because it’s just plain beautiful.

So there you’ve had it; a little taste of Terry Reid. I’m also glad I’m not the only one who thinks the world of Terry, because a documentary is being made about him: http://www.mysuperlungs.com/ ! At least, there was. Last I heard they had trouble with the good man himself, who drinks. He lives very humble, by the way, he never got rich from the albums he made. They are also still looking for funds to finish the film, but already have loads of interviews with people who think highly of him, like Robert Plant. Hopefully they will be able to finish and get Terry the recognition he should’ve gotten years ago!

Number One

I had no idea what I was in for when I started to listen to Led Zeppelin. My dad had the Remasters CD in his car, of course, and it was always fun having Whole Lotta Love on cause the guitar’s racing sound would be going from left to right. I didn’t mind the music at all, but it wasn’t until I met some people in my first year of film school who thought the world of them and Pink Floyd, that I started to really listen. BANG. Mind = blown. I don’t know if it went fast or slow, all I know is that I have become obsessed with Zeppelin. They seemed to have had it all: A killer voice, killer musicians, long defining guitar solos, bang, everything, I mean, I can’t even write. I have bought all of their albums, DVDs, books, I even have a Physical Graffiti image up on the wall.
I would like to say they don’t have a single song I hate, but if there’s one I just can’t listen to, it’s definitely The Battle Of Evermore, their only song to star a guest singer. That was easy, but it’s hard to choose one song that I love the most, even as I am writing this I’m thinking: which one shall I post?  So for now I’m gonna go with two songs I really wanna say something about: First there’s the final song on their first album, and it’s called How Many More Times (1969). What I like about it, is that the song is like a book with chapters, all with a different feel, yet it doesn’t sound disconnected. I think it shows what they are capable of, as does their whole debut album, I might say. So I used to call this one my favorite, but there’s this other song that really, really, REALLY, gets to me: Since I’ve Been Loving You (1970). Heart wrenching ballad, all four musicians carry out the same feeling of love and sadness and helplessness, it is just devastatingly beautiful. I always call it the best broken heart song ever. And I’ve recently come to love the live version from the DVD The Song Remains The Same, so here goes. Enjoy! More Zeppelin will be featured on this blog for sure.

That feeling that’s left everybody; the cosmic energy… Everybody goes “yaaaaaaay” BASH!