Bright Phoebus – Songs by Lal and Mike Waterson – A review


R-2047800-1260722169.jpegIt seems odd to review an L.p. first released in 1972, but hey, this is new to me, so it may be new to you too. Or you may have been trying to decide to get it or not since 1972 and this just might make up your mind.

I first ran into Lal and Mike Waterson’s own song writing and output as a result of listening to the Anne Briggs’s ‘classic’ L.p. ‘The Time Has Come’, which features a recorded version of ‘Fine Horseman’ by Lal Waterson. ‘Fine Horseman’ is a sublimely poetic song populated by Hardy’esque imagery and it had me intrigued in seconds. Then, when quite by chance I happened upon a re-release of ‘Bright Phoebus’ the 1972 L.p. by Lal and Mike Waterson (and others) which contained Lal singing her own version of this, the song she had penned, I just had to pick it up.

As a brief background, Anne Briggs was sometimes known as the honorary fifth Waterson of the Watersons, a British group of folks singers mostly (during its original tenure) from the same family, one that virtually defined traditional unaccompanied folk song tradition in the folk clubs of Great Britain during the British Folk Revival of the earlier 1960s. What many now lovingly refer to the ‘Wax on me finger’, or ‘Finger in the ear’ genre of folk. (Actually that’s a lie, but they might do for all its urgent self righteousness)

thetimehascome_64612The L.p. has already seen two or three re-issues on c.d. and vinyl and was for a time an underground classic, passed between devotees on ropey self duplicated tape cassettes. This issue from 2017 sees Domino Recording Co Ltd re-issue it on REWIGLP102 in a gatefold format with a good quality booklet and sleeve notes, telling the story of Lal and Mike’s development from members of the traditional singing group into songwriters, and the story of this L.p.’s recording.

The album initially gained rave reviews in much of the music press, but simultaneously alienated stick in the mud brigades of ‘don’t you mess with our traditional music’ fans (who had lots of wax stuck on their fingers, and fingers in ears), which slowed acceptance and sales. The L.p. crept into collective memory and slept on the back shelves of old dusty record stores. However it has since become a wonderful example of musical creation and invention and of the power of musical Art to conquer ears and stupidity over time.

In my mind the album links the Watersons traditionally bound unaccompanied singing style, and that school, with the development of Folk Rock by those such as Fairport Convention. I think it little surprise that Richard Thompson, Ashley Hutchings, Dave Mattacks, Tim Hart and Maddy Prior are all helping out in various ways on ‘Bright Phoebus’, it makes perfect sense. Sticking the two together with guitar glue is Martin Carthy. Having redefined English Folk music by translating it to an instrument not traditionally used for it, he’s the all too important chain link in the album’s musical integrity I believe. Richard Thompson will I believe always be a Rock guitarist who got interested in Folk, not a Folk guitarist who has dabbled with Rock; and so it is Carthy that translates what Lal and Mike Waterson are trying to do here into something we can all ‘get’.

So I’ve alluded to some of the collective that combined to produce the music on this L.p., but what about the songs? As usual it’s such a personal thing, what a song means to any person that I am loathe to impose my opinion on you the potential listener and would much rather you shelled out your hard-earned moolah for a copy, and made your own mind up. However one thing is certain, they are dark in the main, mystery laden, intangible, phantom like songs. You expect the Hound of the Baskervilles to howl on backing vocals, you can hear the creak of the Reddle man’s wagon through the marsh mist rising from the ground as you drop the needle. The rain drizzles onto the stone Church’s boundary walls it dusts onto the heart’s tongue ferns and into the grooves of the record, hope dies, and in the morning sun, is reborn.

Folk Psych – a tasting menu.


An intro of all-sorts

The bouquet it hit me like a tonne of bricks, a tonne of sweet-smelling hay and straw bricks, made of Summer daze, lazy riverside ramblings with sylph like cheesecloth bedecked Timotei maidens; it hit me like thick hashish smoke; I envisioned the whispering of caterpillars, of heat laden grass, the shifting cool of shaded lambs under neatly tooth trimmed trees and the quiet beckoning of a hidden mystical hand, a tune came drifting amongst the tree faeries and water sprites and alighted upon mine ears… . and it was good,… and it was UK Folk Psych. I asked for the menu and it was given of freely in little pieces and I complained and was told, ‘no mate it’s only the tasting Menu’. ‘Well bring me something HEAVY’ says I, and so it came to pass, and so it was that it was done.

Psychotic to like UK Folk Psych?

Dust on The Nettles - 4CD 1967-72 Box
Girlfriend’s gift consigns me to new collecting addictions. See above.

It’s mad, I collect Reggae and Jamaican music, what the hell am I listening to ‘Psychedelic’ Folk music of the late 60s and early 70s for? Nope.. not a clue? Me either; though it may have been that while I rambled musically I started separating out a sound, a style, and began to distinguish the genre as distinct, of itself, not of this earth. Then my ever musical girlfriend bought me a decent introductory Cd compilation, ‘Dust On The Nettles’, and down the slippery slope to more record collecting I flew. I’d been searching for a female vocalist that I could actually say I really liked all my life and this too led me in the direction of this sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a fractal like musical sub genre disappearing into the abyss of my fractured mind,…  and this too led me in the direction of this sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a fractal like musical sub genre disappearing into the abyss of my fractured mind,…  and this too led me in the direction of this sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a fractal like musical sub genre disappearing into the abyss of my fractured mind,…  and this too led me in the direction of this sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a sub genre of a fractal like musical sub genre disappearing into the abyss of my fractured mind,…  to a place where Sandy Denny appeared each night, where Bridget St John still spoke French like a native, where Anne Briggs lived in a hole on a beach in Ireland amongst the Gorse and the Furze and cared not for ‘our’ world and wrote songs that would put us on a spaceship to the place we should have been born unto, to another planet, another beach, another life in and on a parallel dimension.

I’d always wanted to explore the Incredible Stringband’s music and they are probably the starting point most oft launch padded upon for those entering these sacred fields of discovery; and so I shall launch this little ship of fools off the cosmic slipway and onto a sea of meanderings via the ISB (as you will see below), where I outline my listening pleasures and give you, perhaps, a starting point at which to remove your denims and dive headlong into the this little mill-pond of music. Thing is the ISB weren’t really Psychedelic Folk, actually, scrub that, de-gausse that. Thing is the ISB were really Psychedelic Folk, but they aren’t representative of the genre wholly, they are too much ‘the other’, too strongly, of their own ilk, too different, too original. HOWEVER… phew! They are the starting point (and perhaps ending point) I shall start (and end?) with.

Their first Lp – ‘The Incredible String Band’

Recorded around one Mic, in a day, it’s a very good Lp, just not star on the dressing room door good, but damn, dang good, worth every penny, but, still… hmm… out of focus.

And so they recorded their first Lp, the result of happenstance meetings and gigs and a club they ran in Scotland, connections made, decisions decided upon, quickly… and then one buggered off to North Africa with his share of the proceeds (Robin Williamson), one kept on gigging (Mike Heron) and one was left by the wayside, probably because he didn’t take enough Acid to ‘fit in’, ‘tune in’ or ,.. oh no, actually.. he did ‘drop out’, or slide out, or ooze on down the line, whatever…, or he just fancied carrying on playing Parlour Banjo tunes, and frankly, that ain’t got legs mate, not for late 60s UK ‘projects’. Like all first Lps, the ideas were there, it was all in place, but they hadn’t realised it yet, when they did, all shit would break loose, crap would happen, faeces would smack the fan up. When Robin Williamson returned from North Africa clutching his fucking Gimbri he and Mike Heron hooked up, (Mike had been gigging more traditionally around the folk clubs of Greater Britain during Robin’s absence (and no I can’t even be bothered to mention the other bloke, no that would be rude, right.. Clive Palmer, Mr Victorian Banjo Gt Britain 1966) they recorded the scene changing, prop wobbling record you will see below. See it??

5000 whatnots on the layers of Huh?

R-1345732-1256851696.jpegThe 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion, actually.

A veritable deep space 9 of tunes. Just look at that COVER! Overall this is my personal favourite Lp by them, though everyone goes on about Hangman’s, there are of course stand out songs on all others, but this just hangs in totality to my taste man. Like the other Lps that originally came out on Elektra, tizz goodly, tizz very goodly.

Look I can’t be bothered with this anymore, I’m not going to go through each Lp, critiquing them, these are just suggestions for listening. So go get copies and listen, make your own mind up, just like Bucks Fizz did. Then the next Lp, The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, and the next  Wee Tam & The Big Huge and, and and and… until they petered out signed to Island and nailed by the musical virus ‘differences of a musical and or artistic nature’. And this brings us neatly to other shit of a Psych Folk vein to check out…

other shit of a Psych Folk vein to check out…

I spent a long time thinking that this stuff was childish, fay, thinnish, and was Hippie music; that as such it was something that I should grow out of, move away from, and I did in my early 20s, only to realise recently in my late 40s, in part to the revolutionary nature of John Peel’s Dandelion label, that this music was as out there as the German feedback and noise bands Peely played on his show in the 1980s. So I became baited and hooked again. And now I’m up to my bollocks in new music, casting my fly, bobbing for apples, spearing for melodic and well-odd’ic fishes once again.

Currently Marc Brierly, Bridget St John and the less Psychedelic but equally as ‘Folk’ Anne Briggs all interest me in particular. Alongside these the more ‘Folk Rock’ John Martyn, Steelye Span and Fairport Convention all beckon, and I’ve got one more Incredible String Band Lp to get to complete the set.

There is loads out there to find, and I expect to be exploring for a while. Come with me on my trip.

Bogumil, more record indulgences of shit artwork


Hi guys it’s been a while, but I’m here again with a few more indulgences vinyl to thrill you all. There was a bit of dried shit quality records for purchase in the last year or so, perhaps the source of these beautiful objects dries. Old people are dying and leaving their copies of Jim Reeves in the local charity shops, and the old people quickly dissappearing to release their grip on the sound of privileged young people with better taste. However, I found a few, I hope you enjoy them.

I love Bogumil.

 Hi I'm George Zamfir, I can toot on his beautiful pipes?

Hi I’m George Zamfir, I can toot on his beautiful pipes?
Why are these Seekers not roll down the hill, they are indeed gravitationally another job, I think that maybe they are. Pop music can do the most wonderful things.
Why are these Seekers not roll down the hill, they are indeed gravitationally another job, I think that maybe they are. Pop music can do the most wonderful things, and some shitty ones too. These are the shitty ones.
Gracie Fields, reffered to often by the British as the "Our Gracie," Bogumil not know why, to be honest I would disown her if she was mine, but as you can see from this example that mouth she eats people for lunch. Munch munch.
Gracie Fields, reffered to often by the British as the “Our Gracie,” Bogumil not know why, to be honest I would disown her if she was mine, but as you can see from this example that mouth she eats people for lunch. Munch munch.
Sex Swing Yum
Sex Swing Yum
Mrs. Barf by its appearance. So cruel viewers church, so cruel.
Mrs. Barf by its appearance. So cruel viewers church, so cruel.
Pathetic really.
Pathetic really.
In Yetties, slightly less attractive than Prog Rock Band Sasquatch were amongs the most pretentious and ugly groups in history, certainly a great group of nausea.
In Yetties, slightly less attractive than Prog Rock Band Sasquatch were amongs the most pretentious and ugly groups in history, certainly a great group of nausea.

Bogumil Lattest Find


Bogumil Yes!

Hi Bogumil here collector of ancient English, which is English, as in the UK, England, land of the brave Romanians home, I havve to find some more recent and great LP covers for your enjoyment.
have a very merry Christmas style English, Polish Potato Joy gift!
have a very merry Christmas style English, Polish Potato Joy gift!
oh joy, ohhh special needs, oh oh no, oh combustible corsage, oh oh.. third degree burning!
oh joy, ohhh special needs, oh oh no, oh combustible corsage, oh oh.. third degree burning!

 

It's like this man is Vietnam verteran, crazy on Polish potato wine, you must be crazy to record a deck of cards for the second time!
It’s like this man is Vietnam verteran, crazy on Polish potato wine, you must be crazy to record a deck of cards for the second time!
scrub your windows, tarmac your drive?
scrub your windows, tarmac your drive?
this will be putting hairs on your chest,.. oh sorry migration to chin..
this will be putting hairs on your chest,.. oh sorry migration to chin..
008
Fivepenny Penis, not Piece!
009
Joint first place winners of Polish Potoato Whiskey drinking competition 1972, what you think you lookin at?
Boss eyed George, country classics, unlike painting, not classic, just very poor effort on part of part time tractor driver, Sergei Ramzonnonoff
Boss eyed George, country classics, unlike painting, not classic, just very poor effort on part of part time tractor driver, Sergei Ramzonnonoff

Newest Bogumil Bad Bwoy Lp Art


00007
Yes your kind of country, no black people, no immigration, no unusual vegetables at market, like Poland potato.

 

00001
Disco Drum, and volume two Disco Guitar, until whole set, including golden Cocaine spoon and hairy chest wigs. Available in 92 easy instalment.

 

00002
Exekcusel me, you have pencce pieces? My career on skids, one old fold singer going cheap..

 

00003
Love in all agges, Golden Days original Lp came with Lubricant, very rare to find with original sex Lubes.

 

00004
Look at my lovely rich things, Hank Snow show us joy of being middle of road totally forgotten now, but rich with USA capitalist goods from Winn Dixie origins.

 

00005
As Englisies say, ‘Our ‘Enry’ , Barry Sheen and Henry Brut Apres Rasage adverts are institution, like wot ‘Enry was commited to after this Lp outpouring.

 

00006
I don’t care where you were from, you looking like you were fruit of ugly tree, and music bland.

Joe Higgs – Unity Is Power – Pressure Sounds Release


unityispowerJoe Higgs – Unity Is Power – Pressure Sounds Release

Joe Higgs is an unsung genius of Jamaican music. Haunting, slightly off the beaten track, inventive, controlled, emotional, intimate and the real deal in only the way a true artist can be.

Many, even the Reggae elite pass him by as the man who taught the Wailers how to Wail; but all it takes is a moment, a moment where you engage with him personally, to convince you once and for all the you have discovered something extremely special. Something to cherish.

Tunes like ‘World is Spinning Around’, or the acapella ‘There’s a Reward’ (on the film Rockers I think it is) will turn you on forever to him and his music.

Pressure Sounds record label are bringing out for the first time the Unity Is Power Lp on the Cd format. Record Labels send me their stuff all the time, for review here and publicity on my online Radio Show and it’s rare I have the time, or have the inclination to spread the word, but when the word is that there’s a new Joe Higgs release due out, be sure that I’ll let you know.

Get it, ….. simple …… as its fabulous. And after you get it, go looking for his Lp ‘Life of Contradiction’, which Pressure Sounds also put out some time ago. Then go and get all the Ska (as Higgs and Wilson) Rocksteady, Early Reggae and Roots tunes you can, you won’t ever be disappointed.

Released – 27/08/2013

p.s. it’s also released on heavyweight vinyl for all you turtablists out there!

TRACKS ARE:

Devotion
One man kutchie
Unity is power
Gold or silver
Love can’t be wrong
Vineyard
Small world
Think of the moment
Sadness is a part of my heart
Sons of Garvey
Invitation to Jamaica (bonus track)
Version (bonus track)

Thoughts on Rockabilly and Sun Records.. 5 points to ponder upon?


I’ve been getting into Rockabilly for a short while..

And I have some thoughts about what I’m hearing.

Now, I’ve been into music in a big way all my life and I’m getting good at recognizing the next listening and collecting sensation as it approaches. I still love my Reggae, but for a while 40s and 50s Rhythm and Blues and then late 50s Rockabilly has been featuring heavily on my Mp3 player, cd player and more infrequently on the turntable/s here at Murphy Towers.

Just recently having listened to Warren Smith’s Ubangi Stomp and Miss Froggie I purchased Essential Rockabilly – The Sun Story on the cheaper than cheap One Day Music label. It strikes me that you can hear some interesting stuff on it. I have listed five of them below in order of interest to me.

1. Elvis Presley was trying to cover the bases with his first release ‘That’s All Right Mama’  b/w  ‘Blue Moon’ (of Kentucky). Interestingly he seems most comfortable singing the Crudup classic, rather than the country number Blue Moon.
On the country/bluegrass tune he sings in a lower register superimposing a character on the song that isn’t like anything you’ll ever hear again. He’s playing, pretending he’s country, giving it some, hamming it up just a touch. Listen to it, check it out and you’ll see what I mean. In the first few bars you’ll not even be sure it’s him if you listen with open ears.

Of course this isn’t anything that isn’t already know. But you can really hear it on the shellac, it’s there audibly, history in the recording. Elvis on his first attempt and record release was trying to find his feet. Sam Phillips was trying to cover the angles by putting out a two sider, one R&B tune and one Country; in the hope that if the Black crowd or God help 50s ‘ society’ the teenagers didn’t like the Bluesy number their white and parental counterparts might prefer the 4/4 re-working of Monroe’s classic ode to Lunar tint.

2. It’s a good thing that Roy Orbison developed that lonesome high sound of his, because frankly at this stage of his career he was on a wrong ‘un. Orbison sounds like all the rest, there is not a great deal to distinguish him from the crowd of singers. In fact he sounds pretty weak at times. Orbison you sucked big time, but you did Okay in the end, for a speccy four eyes.

3. Charlie Feathers is good and needs more listening to, write that one down in the notebook. He’s quite obviously a full on redneck.

4. Johnny Cash is about the most mature temporally transcendant sounding artiste that Sun had. There is a developed confident, ‘I’ve made it already’ sound to Johnny’s output that impresses heavily. Listening to him, even more so than Elvis you are certain that out of all the artists you are listening to, he was the one who was going to make it big.

5. A lot of Rockabilly is badly played and amateurish at best (but great for it), and many of those lauded as great guitarists of the Rockabilly age wouldn’t have been fit to tune Jimi or Jeff’s Strat.

 

Oh… and 6. just for fun.. Jerry Lee Lewis has the fullest and most hypnotizing energy of all of those I’ve listened to so far, and yet, he’ll worry you on record, let alone up close and personal. Christ I’d be scared to rub him up the wrong way. He sounds like a man who’d shoot first and wouldn’t ask any questions whatsoever.  Dangerous.