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Michael Cullen Murphy – Singer Songwriter


An introduction of sorts..

So, birth is a pretty good place to start and the place where I was born, Nashville Tenn. a good place to start songwriting.

I was born to a musically inclined father who had left England in the early 60s to pursue a love of American traditional music. He settled in Nashville’s burbs and had two children with an Alabamian Southern Belle. As a family we mixed with interesting people and I can recall Bill Keith (Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys) and Jim Rooney turning up at our front door when they were on a black and white T.V. we were watching at exactly the same time. That’s when I realised something interesting was going on. It continued to… and there is standard 8 Kodachrome footage of me playing harp (at 3) with Peter Rowan a family friend to prove it. You get the picture.

Anyway, that was then and this is now.

FullSizeRender 5We moved to the UK in ’76, I was almost 10. At about 14 I bought an electric guitar, played it without an amp for a year, finally afforded the amp and then annoyed the shit out of everyone with it, (the Police even came around with complaints), and I continue to, sort of.
It worked like this, as soon as I had the guitar I had a mic, and a knackered old NAD tape deck with a mic input and I started recording my ‘song-writing’ talents. In the 36 years since I assure you, I have improved somewhat. Well a bit.

Actually, this is still then.. I’ll get to now, in a bit.

R-9211750-1476735281-3058.jpegI formed the band the Purple Frisbees in the late 80s / early 90s with brother Chris and friend Harv Malthouse and wrote the songs, stamped my foot petulantly at rehearsals and over time developed a band that unknown to me had a reputation hundreds of miles further out than we ever played. We released a tape cassette and cd of awful music, that Des Day recorded and people loved and still love to this day. Then I folded the band. Then I wrote songs and recorded instrumental music in a small home studio. Released 3 or 4 playful albums only to local support and friends, all the time working, all the time being the best songwriter in the world, but only really, truth be told, in my own head and own bedroom. Then I got married, then I didn’t do that sort of thing anymore. Then my Dad passed away and the marriage broke down. Then I had something to write about again.

Then is now Now.

So, I started again, writing because I had to, needed to, really trying to write, working on it, trying as hard as I could, or working on it as time allowed, to put something down that was a step above what I had put together before, .. you know and people had always said I was good, you know, admired the band, been complimentary, you get the picture.

IMG_4555

I like to think my music is personal and original, but I do have particular (and peculiar)  influences that affect the way I write and play and record, Nick Drake, Roy Harper, Fairport Convention, Karen Dalton, Daniel Romano, Bonnie Prince Billy, John Martyn, The Band, Goffin and King, Leiber and Stoller, Sandy Denny, The Handsome Family, Gothic Americana, Folk Horror, murder ballads, early flat picking styles, Folk Psych, Rockabilly, Leadbelly, George Jones, Ron Sexsmith, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Percy Sledge, Big Joe Turner, there is a long list. It’s my opinion that if you don’t listen to lots of music, you probably aren’t going to write very well, you’ve got to love others, and their music.

But . . .  Seriously.

The moment I took it seriously was when family friend Gabe Kelly had a London dateIMG_4557 cancelled on his UK tour and came to visit my Mum, I was staying there after the messy divorce and played him rough demos of the tunes I’d been toying with, he told me to write, ‘get on with your writing’, ‘you can write’; and when a songwriter who makes his living from doing that tells you to take your work seriously, . .  you do.

Martin-Simpson-by-Elly-Lucas-sml_web-billboard-2000x1125Then . .

Martin Simpson the Folk singer songwriter and world renowned acoustic and slide guitarist came to stay overnight while on a local tour. He and his tour manager Terry almost always did when they were in the area, even after my Dad, who made Banjos for Martin, died, he has kept in touch with my Mum, which is so lovely. I was there still leeching off of my lovely Mother after parting from family ways.

I was downstairs the morning after Martin’s gig with my son, playing around on my guitar. I heard Martin stirring, footsteps on the creaking stairs, I was playing a tune I’d written, shit I thought, fucking Martin Simpson is listening to me play one of my songs. (And I didn’t know at the time he’d won loads of, including BBC R2 songwriter of the year,(twice!) awards and even teaches songwriting at residential courses). So, it’s like this. I can tell that now he’s standing right behind me, I stumble to some sort of embarrassed finish and Martin says ‘That’s a fucking hit song’ and asked for the lyrics. We talked, and he too said, ‘write!, write!, you’re good’; and when a second songwriter who makes his living from doing that tells you to take your work seriously, . .  you do. And you get writing.

Later I played my songs to one of my musical friends of long ago, Sadie Jemmett who also makes her way through life via musical steam.. and she said, ‘you were always good, I don’t say this often to many people, but your songs are really good’. That’s good enough for me. It’s all well and good your Mum and Granny telling you you’re good lookin’ (or that your songs are good) but a stranger, or a professional, well that’s Encouragement Gold my friends, ‘Encouragement Gold’.

So I write and continue to. Actually, know what, I always have, and always will, whether it’s a mic plugged into some shitty NAD tape deck or the multitrack in the box productions I’m into now, where other people are getting involved with the project.

And now recording has improved over the NAD tape deck or Tascam Portastudio.

IMG_4554So, I’ve always loved recording and production almost as much as I love the song-writing, and so a few years ago with some extra ££s I bought the iMac I’d always wanted and the ‘in the box’ software I needed, the best A to D conversion I could, some monitors, and Neumann mics (a recording can never get better than it’s microphones). I’ve been recording what is at the moment, nothing more than a vanity project, I’ve got loads of possible names for the Lp (and yes it will be issued on vinyl), you’ll have to wait and see what I call it. I get no time at all to do it, struggle against all odds to get as far as I have, and I still seem to be writing songs for it. I have to create, leave something significant behind me, share my thoughts on what it is to exist on this spinning rock with you all.

The quality of production I have created is quite amazing given that all of it is created in my little living room, and the advice of people like friend and Soundman Des Day has been invaluable over all the long years of doing this.

IMG_4556While I’m working on it I publish the demos, ideas, and songs that are works in progress in shitty MP3 format via Reverbnation, an artist platform, and the links to that stuff are below. Don’t judge the final product, these are just the sketches. Please check them and the YouTube videos out. Christ only knows when I’ll finish the project, so much to do on it, I’m 50 fucking 2 and there isn’t that much time left for this sort of thing, but you know, and I am my harshest critic, there are one or two really good songs on this thing, this Lp. This thing to come, in process, like life, is yet to come. (P.s. there more stuff below this pinned post)

I hope you are there to hear it.

And when it’s finished I hope you like it.

Murphy © 2019

 

 

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HOTFOOT SPECIALS KICKIN’ UP THE DUST CD ALBUM REVIEW


The Hotfoot Specials – Kickin’ Up The Dust Cd Album Review

Firstly I have to state a conflict of interests here, this is my brother’s band, BUT and it’s a big BUT (that’s why I put it in capital letters!) he and you should know that I am utterly and independently critical and will not pull my punches, hold back from the truth, or as he knows all too well, restrict myself from telling it like (I think) it is.

001Frankly this is a whirling dervish of Cajun music, as authentic as Cajun gets outside of Louisiana. Leader and Melodian player Chris (my Bro) Murphy is an American born, but most importantly American folk culture bred, Cajun Melodian player with a deep and dark history as keyboards player in various bands, signed bands, pro bands, really proper amazing Pop bands with US tours and stuff.. he comes from a long line of musical family and swore that he would never perform live again (after years of torturing himself in Los Angeles). Thank GOD he met Kirsten Hammond one of the best Violin (Fiddle to you Folkies) players I have ever seen heard and enjoyed who encouraged him to leave the swamp of his front room Bayou and, with her, move into the real mainstream world of performance again.

Together and with Dan Stewart a fine Guitar player (he plays other stuff in other bands including ‘Fiddle’ and Banjo), Grant Allardyce a choice drummer of subtle stylings, who is a teacher of drumming, an also session player and chief drumming personage from Brighton Sussex band ‘The Mountain Firework Company’, and my Mom, Mary Murphy, ace triangle player, they have formed a truly kick arse Cajun outfit that could get your dead Granny up out of her seat and two steppin’ ’till the break of day.

They all live in East Sussex and hail from far and wide geographically and culturally, but they sound like the band members could’ve all been born and raised on Shrimp (go on say it without sounding like Forest Gump!). There’s a lot of touting people as the best sounding ‘British’ Cajun band, the most this, the most that, the most authentic, yawn, snore, break wind, but, and I know I’m saying it myself, they are the best UK Cajun band I have ever heard… and yes you would have seen me at too many Womad festies in the 80s and checking out ’nuff folk music far and wide..

Check ’em out, they seem to be playing just about everywhere these days, Gloucester, Cantebury (opening the Cantebury festival) the North Shropshire Cajun Weekender Broadstairs Folk Festival, Cecil Sharpe House’s File Gumbo club, their home territory of the South Coast and the Cajun Barn in Tunbridge Wells and probably somewhere near you.. soon.

The cd is cheap, the cd is fab, the cd, particularly track 10 – Opelousas Two Step ( a nod to Cory) will have you twirling on a higher plane, in an outer body experience, rapt with the hypnotic sounds of the Hotfoot Specials.

BUY IT

You can buy it via their website. – http://www.hotfootspecials.co.uk/item/kickin-up-the-dust/

Hear some of it here – http://www.hotfootspecials.co.uk/player/?playlist_id=2

The cd is a well recorded ‘live’ recording and really captures the sound of the band going to it. Well balanced and most importantly well played it let’s the players talents and skills shine forth, there are no in studio histrionics, effects, no overloading the ‘mix’ with production values and to all intents and purposes it’s a Mono recording, with EQ left to do the work of pulling the instruments out of the mix. A little compression and off to the pressers it went. I should know I mixed it.

Kickin’ Up The Dust

PRICE £11.50 inc Postage & Packing UK Mainland

Track Listing

1. Two Step d’Amédé
2. Eunice Two Step
3. La Valse Criminale
4. Les Flammes D’Enfer
5. Port Arthur Blues
6. La Valse d’Orphelin
7. Bosco Stomp
8. Tits Yeux Noirs
9. Opelousas Two Step ( a nod to Cory )
10. Johnny Can’t Dance
11. Jolie Blonde
12. Tout Ca Cest Dur A croir
13. Acadian Two Step

Total Running Time 52mins

 

Mark Professor – Oystah Card


Oystah Card – Tune.. review..

Mark Prefessor, out now, buy it..
Mark Professor, out now, buy it..

There’s a new tune getting spun at Murphy Towers, ‘Oystah Card’, a fun uplift of Jamaican Jerk Mixed U.K. pepper sauce with a dash of humour, a pinch of patois, and a suspicion of hit about it.

And top hole of all… it’s by someone I’ve seen perform on many occasions about the London Reggae revival scene, namely at Tighten Up a night that has morphed about Town for many a year. Mark Byer aka Mark Professor.

It’s got cheek, he rides the riddim like lizard pon a limb, it has a certain Britishness, it’s light, but it’s heavy (ish). It reminds me of that quirky nod and knowing wink that Kilburn and the High Roads had, that was thusly imparted to Suggs and his lot of Mad Men.

Word is Roddy loves it too..

In my role as Bigmikeydread Reggae radio supremo and self inflated fat person people send me ’nuff demo, ’nuff tune, ’nuff stuff, ’nuff already. Mark Professor didn’t, Mark Professor just put together with his crew a tune worthy of spondoolick donations from my very own personal wallet, albeit a Paypal purchase on eBay. Further word is that it’s all but sold out, not a wonder to this here one.

Hear it below..

 

MEK IT RUN Dennis Bovell, fresh Dub from Pressure Sounds


MEK IT RUN

New Dennis Bovell Dub set,… freshly, from Pressure Sounds, Check it…

Just sent the promo for the latest upcoming Pressure Sounds release, and lovin’ it, lovin’ it, lovin’ it.. Dennis Bovell is a Dubster almighty, ignore at your aural peril… simple as.. currently rinsing my ears out on the way to work and the way back home..

An excerpt from the upcoming releases liner notes…

Following recent neck surgery Dennis Bovell was under heavy medical discipline, amongstother restrictions there was to be strictly no playing of the bass. Now, more than any musician,the bass player has an almost physical connection to his chosen instrument, umbilical even,so the prospect of no vibration sensation was going to be difficult to deal with for therecovering Dennis. Not one to let such news impede his onward path Dennis came up with theidea of returning to unfinished work in an attempt to distract attention from his enforced low-end bass cold turkey.

Down in his musical lock-up lay a stack of boxes containing old 2 inch multi-track analogue master tapes, some dating back to the late seventies; Dennis selected some likely looking titles that never had dub treatment and arranged some time in Neil Fraser’s(the Mad Professor)studio as he knew the Prof had every gadget under the sun, there he”baked”tapes ready for digital conversion via an Alesis HD24 a 24 track, 48kHz hard diskrecorder rescuing the sounds from an inevitable oxidisation process that comes with age. At the mixing end Dennis utilises a whole range of outboard gear from old analogue to the latestdigital sets, explaining the unique and separate end sounds of the dubs presented on thealbum.

Of the twenty odd tunes recovered, sixteen are featured on this set, like dubbing on a digiOuija-board they date from the late seventies through the mid eighties. It was at this time thatdeejay of the day I Roy had first come to the UK to tour, and like all visiting Jamaican stars hepicked up a local band, it just happened to be Matumbi led by the young Dennis Bovell whospent most of his time between the ages of 19 and 25 working with that most intelligent andprolific of toasters. He even recalls I Roy’s first UK appearance being double booked sold outdates at both Battersea and Action Town Halls! Of course, the pair went on to record the albumWhap’n Bap’n together for Virgin, an early reggae rap set that the deejay insisted appear underhis real name Roy Reid, lest his roots credentials were impaired.

Early UK Catalogues for Jamaican Music


Melodisc, Rio, Blue Beat, Ska Beat, Dr. Bird, Island, Pyramid, Sue

On a recent visit to see Phil Etgart a well known Jamaican music collector I was told of a wonderful story of how Phil, shortly after buying a collection of records received by post a packet full of Lists and Catalogues from the seller. A packet containing lists of releases by some of the rarest and now most sought after labels in the history of Jamaican music in the UK. I’ve always had a  love the ephemera releated to the music, hence Jamaican Label Art a site I started with another mate, Ian Causer, and it’s with great pleasure and Phil’s permission that I post these here for you to see.