So Richard Dawson is on Weird Records, but he’s like Weird isn’t he, a bit weird, slightly odd, a touch touched? My Mum says he needs to learn how to tune his guitar, my friends think I need to listen to something, or someone else, … but me, me I think he’s a bit special. You know… Sue’s in the Kitchen cooking tea now, so I better turn it down a bit.. she’s from Sheffield and the Ex was from Widnes so rather mistakenly I feel I understand Northerners. Dawson is from Oop North with it’s grey lid and it’s sideways rains and rustic vistas… Fuck me side three starts up like ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ by The Who, this Northern Folk Soul Mod has got me.. on the run, mentally I won’t be the same again.
I love how he writes it as he sees it and sings it as he writes it, that’s very refreshing. I like what he sees too, the mundane daily business of seeking a spiritual existence in the Crab Nebula of daily grinding shite and in the vernacular of the unspectacular. The Hogarth, an empty bottle rolling windily on a street’s cobbled gutter, the glowing prism of coal light below the UFO in Black Triangle. He points at it in his lyrics, no judgement, but the music says otherwise, otherwise you wouldn’t get the soft cymbal in Freshers Ball. An obvious love song, to someone, whose Bobbie? Doesn’t matter, it’s probably made up anyway. Could be, who knows. Don’t know him, never been to a gig.
Slack Guitar nurses along, lifted by modern sounds of synth, and there are moments I’m thinking, ‘was he listening to the same Heavy Metal as me in the 80s and 90s’? Was he? I’m scratching about for easy categorising scabbings, exploring the slag heaps of a grim NORTH, so ‘File in Pop’, lifting up genre defining funguses to see if Dawson lingers below, eyes gleaming, taking the piss, launching out spores of musical diffusion, confusion and originality. He is is he?
The sleeves of this dbl Lp have lyrics on, that’s good. Some insight.
There’s a lot of shit talked about this guy and his music, so just listen and take from it what you take, I guarantee that it won’t be like anything you’ve ever taken from anyone before, and jee suss, that makes it worthwhile don’t it?
Pachyman In Dub, released this year (2019) is an homage to all that was great about 1970s Dub Reggae.
Pachyman, an obvious enthusiast for Roots Rockers Reggae and the sonic qualities of that genre, delivers into ’nuff skanking ear worms deep and heavyweight baselines, like Robbie Shakespeare in his own Barbell label days, with the accompanying phasing and echo effects of Dub Master King Tubby straight outta Drummilie Avenue and some oh so tasteful keyboards over the top in the style of Winston Wright or Bernard ‘Touter’ Harvey. You can hear the influence of producers like Bunny Lee and Lee Perry and the mixing touch of engineers like Errol Thompson and the then Prince Jammy. pachyman.bandcamp.com
His lines are choice, and he’s listened and absorbed, you can tell he has a great ear and he has heard what you have heard, and he has heard the word and that word is DUB. He plays everything and very musically indeed.
Each tune is a little ‘Dub’ gemstone, shining brightly on it’s own, and what I enjoyed was that he has treated each ‘Dub’ as a stand-alone production in their own right, i.e., unlike their 70s counterparts, they are not the re-cycled versions of vocal or instrumental original songs, they are stand alone tunes in their own right and his love for the genre rings true all the stronger for this treatment. They are each a little Dub imagining. I’m hoping we may hear a Deejay version of this Lp, or even that he retrospectively gets some singers and players to produce one away originals on the rhythms he’s created, because those rhythms are strong.
It suffers a little from the outboard he’s used to create it, as the sound at times can seem a little flat and the audio field isn’t as wide as you might want to enjoy, but something about the bottom end and mid range sound, the lack of a truly clean and crisp top end and the flat Mono nature of the mix down gives it more of an original feel. It sounds like an Lp produced, perhaps not at a leading studio of the time like Channel One, but perhaps somewhere where they hadn’t quite got the sound totally sussed yet, working on a smaller budget, possibly making it all the more accurate and retrospectively correct, .. has he gone to the ultimate degree to produce a truly ‘retro’ sound? Probably not, but it’s fun to play with the idea that the concept might just go this deep.
I only found out about this Lp a number of mere months after it was released by Permanent Records in the USA, and with no European distribution and already SOLD OUT but the time I knew of it I was left to hunt down a test pressing, pay through the nose for it and then pay the import tax when it came into the country, making it considerably more expensive than many rare Lps of original material I have sourced through the years. But, I believe it’s worth it, which says a lot I think for the quality of the music and the ear of it’s creator.
Check out ‘Jumpy’, my favourite tune of the Lp, but they’re all good. I suggest your roll up on a copy.. soon.
The Half of Six Record Listeners Club is a social occasion, an evening where Mike & Sue, your hosts, invite a special guest to chat about the music they love. Mike & Sue also have the occasional disagreement about which records are good ones and which are not so good.
So, all too often you turn on the radio, or listen to a show, it’s genre specific, you don’t get surprises and you leave un-edified, and without new artistes to listen to, or any real surprises. Not at this podcast, two music lovers, partners in crime and life discuss their favourite music, normally with a guest who brings her or his records to their cozy hideaway on the Isle of Skye (sort of). We’re big music fans, so expect some great tunes and we’re also both highly opinionated about the music we love, so don’t expect agreement, You’ll be party to the occasional domestic moment, in amongst the mix.
The first podcast of this music review show, in which Mike & Sue introduce themselves and play you some of the music that means a lot to them. In the future we’ll have a guest on most of our shows sharing their musical loves (and hates quite possibly), but we thought you’d like to get to know us first, and what the show is all about, or rather, will be about. Please come join us for a cozy look through our record collections as we take a wee dram by the glowing turfs on our imaginary homes’ hearth, in the wilds of the Isle of Skye. On this edition you’ll hear music by a wide variety of artistes, including The Bevis Frond, The Clash, Anne Briggs, Hal Paige, The Cure, Bill Doggett, Bill Haley, The Cardiacs, The Fuzztones, Daniel Romano and much much more besides, we aren’t genre driven, so expect a wide but pleasing array of musical styles. Mike & Sue
Daniel Romano – Finally Free – New West Records NW5255 – Released 2018
I’m going to be totally honest here, and brutally frank. I don’t know what the fuck this Lp is ‘really‘ about. That fact, in combination with my assertion that it is a work of beauty and genius has got me seriously fucked up and confused, I don’t get that way often. I like it though when I do. I like it when I can’t tuck something into a pigeonhole, when it tells me to get my listening ears on properly. I like it when it is music so obviously and adventurously wonderful. But when records are just pretentiously impenetrable, I lean quickly to placing them into the category ‘shite’ to be ignored, and money recently wasted.
I don’t normally have a hard time working out what an artist is trying to do, writing about, saying, who they sound like or where their influences lay, but that’s not the case with Finally Free. Daniel might feel finally freed by this Lp as if it were some cathartic exercise in musical self assertion, but it’s got me quite possibly ‘finally stumped’ in working out what’s going on with it.
But that’s a GOOD thing. I’m bored with knowing what the hell I’m hearing. In my dotage I need something I’ve not ever heard the like of before too keep my interest. To make me want to review it for instance, in a blog.
Just who the hell is Daniel Romano?
I first ‘discovered’ my version of Daniel Romano, isolated and without musical guidance, while trawling YouTube for Alt Country songs, and found a wonderful song, that appears with an alternative title, feel and mix on his Lp. ‘If I’ve Only One Time Askin” but is on YouTube called ‘More Love From A Stranger’. I was immediately struck by his songwriting, playful attitude to wearing revival Nudie style suits with a big hat, and his obvious and only slightly submerged obsession with Hank Williams Jnr. The song was strong. Sounded like a man headed for romantic oblivion at the bottom of a bottle, and had me hooked. Shortly thereafter I bought the frankly disappointing cd album ‘Come Cry With Me’ on import. The songs were nowhere near as strong as his YouTube appearance and I put any further exploration of his music aside for a while.
Then recently while at a record store in Brighton England I took a punt on what is a recent but not latest release by him, Finally Free, the record I’m here to try and review. I bought it partly because Romano’s stuff just doesn’t appear in the UK without a pricey import tariff generally. It’s hard to find, and expensive when you do. The point I’m making is that my experience of his music was not explained or taught by anyone, he’s a rare thing for me a discovery I made. His music is a place I found, not one I was shown to, or recommended. I don’t know his story, I’m in a dark room and it’s as if he keeps his history close to his chest, there isn’t a lot out there about who is, or has been. I think he likes it that way, I think he likes to play with his perceived image. Do you Daniel? Is that what it’s about for you?
I took Finally Free home, listened, loved it, listened again, loved it more, couldn’t get the lyrics at all, found them impenetrable. Were they pretentious as fuck, or heartfelt? Then listened to the Lp over two months lots of times, loving it. But not getting any closer to the centre of it.
I had questions to answer.
The artwork by Daniel on the Lp sleeve and on the reverse of the frankly ugly poster included was it naïve, or just shitty? Was the assertion on the outer sleeve notes that the Lp was mastered on the stolen land of the Haudenosaunee, Anishinabek and Huron-Wendat, but produced and mixed on the stolen land of the Haudenosaunee and Anishinabek just so much pretentious waffle or meant from the heart?
I remain confused and as yet unconvinced of just what he’s trying to do. That’s a good thing, I feel wrong-footed, confused, but loving the sound, the sound, the music, the music which carries all doubt straight through to the second side’s run out groove.
Don’t fuck me around Dan!
Is he just fucking with us, one minute he’s a finger picking singer songwriter (I’m here citing early YouTube videos of his performances), then he’s rhinestone cowboy, a hard drinking’ country star, then he’s alt something, love poet, romantic bard and fine artist who states that the Lp is ‘A Collection Of Poems In The Language Of Love’, and whom refers on the rear of the sleeve to his penmanship on it as ‘Notes From The Author’. Is he playing with us again, this time trying to impart on himself and perhaps the Lp project the perception of a literary milieu.
The cover, an area previously explored as a thing of artistic potential by Daniel Romano is left filled by ugliness, an ugly 3d photo, and two of the nastiest colours you could pick for anything, even a death warrant, and yet the innards, the guts of the Lp, the music, the production, arrangement, mix of musical happenstance and composition are deftly combined to produce a thing of utter transcendence. Some of the chord progressions are just wondrous, and not one song feels copied, hackneyed or unoriginal.
To all intents it looks like an Lp where the artist is trying way too hard to be noticed, way too hard to impress, to be original, not to quote and re-quote other musical styles and other artists, and yet he manages to do exactly that, to be beautifully original and to prevent the listener being able to catalogue his sound and style. I have my own opinions of course of where some of the sounds hail from, you will have your own when you listen to it (and I hope you do). I can hear strong hints of The Incredible String Band then The Beach Boys, The Byrds (back in 8 Mile High days), Crosby, Stills and Nash, Bob Dylan, Earth Opera, The Velvet Underground, Rocky Horror style Rock Opera shenanigans, Nick Drake, and the sonic 60s excesses of an LSD fuelled musical decade. Like all great music it sounds like you’ve heard it before, but you know you haven’t.
Unlike those Lps of old that used to say in little text long the top edge of the sleeve – ‘File Under ‘Rock N’ Roll’, you won’t get any such advice from Mr. Romano. It’s going to have to go in a section all of it’s own. ‘Finally Free from category’.
There’s something a little worrying about the Disco-Antistat cleaner, namely that for something quite so obviously simple, it does the job rather too well.
I’d had one bought for me as a present years ago, used it and then put it to one side, a little concerned that there were rumours that it might leave a residue. One which would fur up the needle, and sit in the grooves for years to come. I had postulated at the time that any level of film left in the grooves of the record could only affect sound quality adversely. But I have never to date had any problems, I have never found any residue from the Lps and singles I washed coming off on the stylus, nor any degradation of the records treated, no reduction in sound quality. However I still don’t quite trust the Cleaner, trust is a hard thing to give when it’s your pride and joy record collection that could be destroyed by some cheap record cleaner system and a few positive online reviews.
The ‘System’, if a few bits of plastic can be called a ‘System’ consists of a big bottle of what is surely mainly Isopropyl-Alcohol and something mysterious that cuts down static issues. Then also a bath for the record with brushes welded inside, brushes that when you suspend the record via the handy label protecting spindle adaptor and rotate the record manually, clean said record. Hands get wet with the solution while rotating, it sloshes a bit, you rotate both anti & clock wise, you finish, somewhat awkwardly unscrew label protecting spindle ‘thingy’ and place newly cleaned record to drip and evaporate dry in the handy, ‘this was once tucked in the bottom of the bath section drying rack’, as pictured right.
It feels a little jim crack, but it was time to give it a proper test.
Mystery Cleaner, Mystery Train
So when I was recently given a record that had once belonged to my mother, ‘Mystery Train’ on the HMV label, the re-issued Sun Recording, sold with Elvis’s contract to RCA, and it was in it’s terrible 60 year old uncleaned state, I took this test worthy opportunity to see just what this relatively cheap record cleaning system could really do (again).
Frankly I was floored by it’s performance. With a few manual turns (in both directions) of the record in the cleaning bath, through the brushes and then a short drying time, the improvement was gobsmacking. A lead-in groove which had previously sounded like a commando attack with accompanying light arms fire now only hinted at it’s previous incendiary and crackly state and the record played clean, with a full sonic range and looked shiny and as if it had only just been pressed. It improved the record from unplayable to playing and damn fine in about 10 minutes.
Since then I have washed a few further records including some valuable Jamaican singles which were in an unplayable state. All have been massively improved. Rather than leaving them to fester on the shelves, they’re getting played and that’s what it’s all about.
The kit I have as I understand it has been superceeded by a MkII version, and the one I have does suffer from a cheap construction and a rudimentary and manually operated design. The fluid is impossible to pour back into the bottle supplied via the funnel and grime filter without spilling a sizeable ammount every time you use the kit, and it goes everywhere. This is very annoying and poor design is poor design, whether it is cheaply produced or not. The kit retails for under £50, new bottles of fluid are about £10 and to look at the boxed contents of what you get for your buck you would be forgiven for being disappointed; and yet if you considered the results only, you would consider the money it costs, to be VERY well spent.
I’m still reserving some judgement, just in case there proves to be an issue with any residue long term, but currently I’d give it 9 out of 10 for results, considering it’s simple operation and outlay.
This ‘article was written because though rumours abound of residue issues, with some people even just using the bare bones of the machine with distilled water and not the ‘Majic Formula’ to avoid those rumoured problems, no online review existed that directed talked about this head on and I could myself find no information to either confirm or deny the residue rumours with this kit.
I hope this has been helpful to those of you with old grimy Vinyl that needs a gentle scrub.
A completely essential single to have and to hold.
So this is the first of a new ‘series’ of ‘tunes’ that I in my infinite pretentiosity consider essential to have and to hold, to own, to rest easy ‘pon the record shelving.
It won’t just be Reggae music, but anything that I include, but anything that is pure essential listening, but more than that essential to have, to hold, to be physical with (let’s get physical, physical, let me hear your body talk…), none of that Spotify or iTunes shit, none of that ‘I got a collection of 20,000 tune dem, only to find out that .. Im’ got 20,000 Mp3 deh!! .. pure fuckery .. chaw….
This is/was a pure and strong new Roots anthem, ethereal lyrics, solid, meant and meaningful, forward moving, a pleading anthem against violence and the culture of black on black crime. More so though, just a beautiful almost acapella from a smoke laden larynx, pure genius ++ lyrically, this is one to stop the dance but still kill the sound ++ spiritually.
lyric selection, without objection…
I hear a next youth dead yeah
Hey watch the places you walk and mind The way you talk Watch out fi the vampire who will sneak up in the dark Watch out for the big time thief who claim sey that them smart Stop bringing the crack and the gun to mash up the youth dem heart Earth a run red
Songwriters: Richell Bonner / F. Pitter / L. Corniffe
So, for years my Mum, or should I say Mom, for she is the true American of the family, an Alabama gal, would talk of Ian and Sylvia with a wry smile and a hidden laugh in her voice. I never understood the lilt to her voice as she recounted this folkladymanduo quite and yearned to understand.
Was she remembering the heady days of a Southern education at Auburn, records dropping on to the portable record player like pancakes on a Tuscaloosa griddle? Was she recalling a life unhindered by musical taste or by the demands of her new life as wife to Barry Michael and mother to her two boys Michael Cullen and Barry Christopher? Was she revisiting the strains of Ian and the mysterious Sylvia drifting upon the long corridors of her young ladies only dormitory as friend Sarah berated her for stealing yet another letter from ever missing boyfriend ‘Phillip’ to the soundtrack of a giant weather balloon being woman-handled along those same now time dusted halls of residence?
Such is the un-folk of Ian and Sylvia.
I always got the impression that Mom had once thought them rather fabulous, in an early 60’s preppy U.S.A. folksie way; that they were artistes akin to those used to base ‘A Mighty Wind’, the comic feature film mockumentary outing about Frat-Folk that Spinal Tap’s creator Christopher Guest had made, and I had seen. And they are.
I also postulated that my Dad who was a folk dedicate and hardcore lover had ‘re-educated’ her tastes somewhat with a bigoted bias against all folk second handers … people like Ian & Sylvia would not have impressed my old man, a man taught Banjo by Peggy Seeger and taught musket shootin’ by Doc Watson.
I’m going to tell you about a fantastic tune on this Lp in a moment, but first I need to tell you that the Lp, the Stereo version of the Lp on Vanguard VSD-76269 is a hotch-potch of confused versions of trad folk music, chanson and pop moozack and as such it’s much more Peter, Paul and John Denver, than Clarence Ashley and Bob Dylwot, and much more Wanksy than Planxty.
However there is a tune on here… a bona fide tune, a tune to drop, a tune to impress the rest, a tune to test the best.
Catfish got der Blues?
On side two and in an Velvet Underground-ish stylistic triumph is a rendition of Catfish Blues, where the session guys groove out and Sylvia rocks the mic. The guitarist takes a drug riddled ride on the riff and though Sylvia is obviously sober, it sounds like the session players were out late last night and may possibly have dropped an Owsley.
So you got to check it, the Lp is probably worth all of 25 cents, but this tune, overlooked as it obviously has been (fuck you should see how little it goes for on Discogs), is worth all of that 25 cents on it’s own.
You heard it here first… Catfish Blues here on their collection of ‘The Best’, originally on their Lp. So Much For Dreaming on VSD-79241 (Stereo). So lick it from the top, to the very last drop, .. well track 4 side 2 anyway.
Final credit goes to Uncle Jack Brown for sending this Lp to me in the U.K., such is my international renown as record collector and musically fuelled auteur or as that Joe Boyd might say, musical ‘Eminence Grise‘, . . . the toss pot.
Blue Monday – Fats Domino and the lost dawn of Rock n’ Roll – Rick Coleman
I’m part of a Facebook group called ‘The Record Den’ where like-minded sad O.C.D. suffering record collectors and enthusiasts of a superior popular musical past share their likes; in this case mainly Rhythm and Blues from the 40s and 50s, Soul from the 60s and Progressive Rock Lps from the 70s (yes there’s always at least one truly sad Chemistry Teacher who clings to his Yes and Rush Lps with a sweaty desperation and requires public validation for his self-imposed disability).
A short while ago and whilst suffering from a lack of reading material I asked for suggestions for my next book and bedtime indulgence. I focussed my fellow collectors on what I felt I required. A book that would illuminate the popular 40s and 50s world of Rhythm and Blues music. And ‘Blue Monday’ was suggested to me, in amongst a few others as befitting my requirements. My fellow record junkies were flowing in their praise of Rick Coleman’s book.
I was shocked to discover that it is the ONLY biography of a man who was essential to the world of Rhythm and Blues and centrally important and present in the operating theatre at the birth of Rock n’ Roll. ‘It’s a boy, and he’s got a D.A. and a white T-Shirt on, with 20 soft pack Marlboro already tucked into the short sleeve, Mr. Domino, you must be very proud…’
The book rather wonderfully features as a first step a map of New Orleans, detailing the various districts and locating for all to see important and key features of the city’s music-scape and Fats Domino’s present and historic placement in that geography. Before even beginning to read I found myself wandering the streets, and linking the locations of his various family homes with photographs in the book, shortly thereafter going on Google Earth to street view the various locations as they appear now. Sadly one or two destroyed entirely by Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans City Governments fraudulent re-claiming of unattended and un-mended land left behind by people too poor to return to it in the stringent allotted time-frame. As you can see, I was fully engaged with this book within seconds of opening it. No mean feat, as I generally don’t get past the first half chapter of books that are poorly conceived or poorly written or both, as is more normally the case.
Rick Coleman takes the reader through Fat’s history, his childhood, his background, placing it strongly and forcefully within the context of New Orleans as a city formed from the sweat and blood of the African diaspora, Catholicism and the indivisible early French settlement of Louisiana. I found the section that revolved around Congo Square, an area established as a location of Black African cultural expression from the city’s earliest days, incredibly interesting and engaging.
Rick Coleman uses the location as a cypher for the changing role and social mobility of a multi-layered Black city culture that shifts and moves with changes in the religion of the region and the political upheaval of Civil War America and ingress of Protestantism. All the time keeping the reader in touch with the music soil of the place, that same substrate that gave rise to a crop of musicians, singers, writers and producers, that included Fats Domino.
The book touches on Fat’s links with other musicians of the era, his long and fruitful if sometime difficult relationship with Dave Bartholomew his writing partner, arranger and frequent band leader. We hear about other movers and shakers of the City at the time; Smiley Lewis and Professor Longhair feature amongst fellow New Orleans musicians and the shifting line up of Fats Domino’s own touring band and the individuals mini stories are well told. We learn about his rise to fame, his signing to and early career with Imperial Records, and movement onwards to other labels, the never-ending tour schedule and the tragic loss of band members to the musicians seeming drug of choice at the time, Heroin and the tragedy of car wrecks reaped through too many miles on the road.
In short the book is well-formed and paced, tells the tales well, fills one in on just who Fats Domino was, what and where gave birth to him and in turn Rock n’ Roll. It’s a real lesson and a Rockin’ Good read. Heartily recommended. If I have one minor criticism it is that the last decades of an artist no longer truly central are skimmed over and compressed in a way that leaves the finish of the book underperforming like a damp firework. A pity as the rest of the book is an explosion of images, information, sights, smells and a vivid retelling of one of the greatest and least lauded artists of the Rhythm and Blues and Rock N’ Roll era.
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