Sunday, 21 September 2014

Tom Waits for No-One: 1: Kentucky Avenue

Sappy title I know but...

Tom's best 'ballads'? 
An impossible question as each is like a cross eyed lover; you adore them for their perfect imperfections, best loved ever changing, depending on your own state of dishevelment or displacement...
There's the more obvious early balladeering of the Asylum Years but his output post 'Swordfishtrombones' has been similarly affecting; Waits will always tug your heartstrings by grabbing you very gently by the throat. The increasing dissonance in his music renders the occasional moments of baleful beauty twice as nice. It's like the clouds parting on a nightmare; you surrender to a dream of a song and love it all the more for it's ephemeral effect; sure that its fleeting beauty is a prelude to darkness descending again. That's the nature of the beast in Tom; he dresses himself (and addresses us) as a hobo, an outsider; a Peeping Tom if you like. You sense him sanguinely squinting at the world from the gutter; because that's surely where the interesting folk abide; the walking wounded sidelined by sorrow, bad judgements or just plain bad luck. Tom's always on the move though, that transience is what makes him such an engaging raconteur. He populates his world with such worldy wonders that we can't look away but wouldn't want to walk those streets.

I'm posting regularly, but in no particular order, some bleeding obvious gems, other rough diamonds that might have been lost amongst the rubble.

I love 'Kentucky Avenue' like no other... so much so that I'm posting the live and recorded versions.
I always get a little moist during the penultimate verse.
The strings swell and Tom pleads:

"Take the spokes from your wheelchair
And a magpies wings
And tie 'em to your shoulders and your feet!
I'll steal a hacksaw from my dad
And cut the braces off your legs
And we'll bury them tonight in the cornfield"

I'm continually dipping into a collection of interviews: 'Innocent When You Dream' is basically Tom on Tom; with the usual tall tales and u-turns that inform any conversation with this mischievous minstrel; he flits between cantankerous, charming and irascible; wily, witty and never dull. 
I'd happily have him on my desert island but I'd not be lending him my matches...

"My best friend, when I was a kid, had polio. I didn't understand what polio was. I just knew it took him longer to get to the bus stop than me. I dunno. Sometimes I think kids know more than anybody. I rode a train once to Santa Barbara with this kid and it almost seemed like he lived a life somewhere before he was born and he brought what he knew with him into this world and so... It's what you don't know that's usually more interesting. Things you wonder about, things you have yet to make up your mind about. There's more to deal with than just your fundamental street wisdom. Dreams. Nightmares."

Feel free to chip in...

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Timely Perhaps...

Taken from 'Hopeland (Notes from Corsica)

Fish to Fry

It was a beautiful day, not a cloud. We sat outside La Chariot in Algajola and ordered pizza with anchovies, served with a piquant olive oil and vinegar combination that wasn’t for the meek. We had stopped for a quick lunch and then it was to be a beach day; we had books to finish. Protected from the sun by silver birches that sheltered the restaurant’s garden, we shared a carafe of rose and waited for the earth to turn. We loved the odd duality of this calm bustling haven; the patron Patrick was the double of Di’s brother Steve so, for her, it also had an illogical fraternal pull. On finishing our demi we began to wonder where our food was. The service here was usually great but, there was no service; everyone was crammed into the tiny bar watching television. I tried to catch an eye, but to no avail. Maybe it was a racing day; I knew that the old boys inside loved their horses, hacking and slapping their thighs as they wagered and lost centime after centime. I stumbled into the smoky darkness and peered at the throbbing silver glow. No horses, but what seemed like an American blockbuster; all sirens, explosions and an overactive NYPD. The hushed reverence with which this action was viewed confused me. “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” I asked the barman. “This” he announced, “is World War Three.” I lent towards the screen at the very moment that the second tower was hit. There was a collective throaty gasp as the shadow of a plane buried itself deep and indelibly into the consciousness of all who witnessed that devastating moment. The coverage was CNN but with an excitable French commentary that I couldn’t decipher. “An accident?” I asked the room. “Terrorists! New York is burning” a strangled voice replied. I held on to the bar, light headed with the gravity of the moment and caught myself, a stranger, in the long mirror above the bar. I wasn’t acting, this was momentous, America under attack on its own soil; things could never be the same again. I looked out of the bar into the absurd sunshine and beckoned Di in. Ahead of her waded a willowy man dressed in the traditional bleu de chien, a faded blue cotton fishing jacket, and bright red rubber boots, with a simple fishing rod over his shoulder and the handle of a green plastic bucket in his hand. What hair remained was oiled and middle parted. Atop a prominent elegant nose he wore round tortoise shell spectacles, beneath, his luxuriant moustache was the stuff of legend. Oblivious to the unfolding drama he made his way lugubriously to the bar and ordered a glass of Pastis, which he held for an age beneath that long nose before downing it in one. Wiping his moustache with the back of a hand, he took off his glasses and scanned the room, his bleary eyes eventually resting on mine. He nodded down at his bucket with a shrug. “Up since dawn, for one fish. Merde!” I looked into the slopping container. A lonely red mullet was doing laps, fishing for company, or a way out. Ordering another drink the man’s squinting gaze followed mine to the TV screen. The twin towers smoked and blazed. “Qu’est-ce que c’est?” he asked, indifferently, scratching his peeling pate. “This,” I replied “is World War Three. Terrorists!” He arched his eyebrows and scowled down at his catch. “Terrible, a disaster” I muttered. “Terrible yes, but not a disaster” he gently kicked his bucket, “for tonight there will be fish soup”.

Later, back in England I would see a TV documentary on 'The Falling Man', about the efforts to identify a poor soul captured on film that day, falling to his death from World Trade Centre. Since its publication the now iconic photograph, taken by Richard Drew, has been invested with many layers of meaning. Some thought that the image should be airbrushed from history, that to view it was voyeuristic. Others saw it as a symbol, a new flag for a now outward looking America. There seems to be a calm about the man's descent that defies the horrors surrounding him, he's caught in a brief moment of apparent grace. Of course, the shots before and after that frame tell the true tale of this prelude to extinction; he hurtles at 130mph, limbs akimbo, towards certain death. I was struck by the idea of this being the man's last choice. He could accept the fate thrust upon him by the terrorists, or he could choose to control his own destiny, albeit a limited choice, but still an empowering moment; not suicide, but choosing your own time of departure. Is there not a dignity in that, and should we not recognise that dignity? To look away would seem to deny the fact that he made a choice, should we not honour him by bearing witness? I wrestled with the subject. There was something in the way that people reacted to the photo that intrigued me. Eventually it came to me; we all wanted to see his face, his expression, to know how he felt, to see ourselves in his place. There but for the grace of God indeed, he is ‘all of us’! 

I later heard an interview with a man who had spoken to his wife on a cell phone just before she jumped. He spoke calmly about her making the ultimate choice, and the comfort taken from knowing that she was thinking of him and their children as she leapt and he was sure that for her it was a kind of homecoming. She was able to breathe freely and for one last moment be under a beautiful blue sky. He said something like "to be out of the smoke and into fresh air, she must have felt like she was flying", an endorsement of the human spirit too profound to ignore. The idea that, as this horror unravelled, I was under the same blue sky, looking into a green bucket, sharing a Corsican fisherman’s disappointment, remains a constant reminder to me of the vagaries and vulnerabilities of any life, the transience and resilience of the human condition and the profundity of the mundane. As strangers bequeath their chosen Heaven or Hell upon us all, no man truly controls his own destiny. Whilst individually we all live where compromise leads us, collectively we must learn to control our politicians and to own our religions. We empower them to provide protection and comfort, not perpetuate the terrors that seem to feed them. At a distance the world might tear itself apart, but meanwhile on this peculiar island, there were other fish to fry.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

'Trevor' the Tractor

My first word was 'Tractor'
Unsure as to why
Now whenever I see one
Just want to cry, cry and cry

If my first word was 'fog'
Well that would be better
Not a workingman's clog
To hobble and fetter

That first word's a factor
I wish to deny
It's what I am not
I'm no practical guy

Unspecific and vague
My perfect report
Try bottling that
In a winsome retort

I've only one gear
And it leads to an easel
I'm all crutches, not clutches
Work on whisky, not diesel

And why am I writing
These words not so clever?
I've been gifted a picture
Of a Tractor named 'Trevor'

William Carlos Williams wrote this:

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

With regard to the inspiration for the poem, Williams wrote: 
"The Red Wheelbarrow" sprang from affection for an old Negro named Marshall. He had been a fisherman. He used to tell me how he had to work in the cold in freezing weather, standing ankle deep in cracked ice packing down the fish. He said he didn’t feel cold. He never felt cold in his life until just recently. I liked that man, and his son Milton almost as much. In his back yard I saw the red wheelbarrow surrounded by the white chickens. I suppose my affection for the old man somehow got into the writing."

Unsure as to why I'm writing this other than that I've been reading about 'enjambment' and 'objective representation'. 
It's a slow day and... I love WCW's poem.
Unsure as to why.
Maybe because it's meditative, and vaguely specific... if that makes sense...
Oh, and perhaps because someone just sent me a picture of a tractor... named 'Trevor'.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Lovesong: Joe Henry: 'Sign' & 'Slide'

Reading Joe Henry's birthday eulogy for Elvis Costello yesterday got me reaching, tellingly, not for EC records, but for Joe's latest; the exquisite 'Invisible Hour'.
If you haven't yet had the pleasure you really should check it out.
Excuse this regurgitation but... upon release, I was so moved by it that I blogged and wrote an Amazon review.
It went something like this:

"I take all this to be holy
If futile, uncertain and dire
Our union of fracture, our dread everlasting
This beautiful, desperate desire"
This morning I read a piece by Andy Miller in The Guardian about how we are losing the ability to read.
I wasn't actually rustling a broadsheet but prodding at the online version… a case in point I guess.

"Although we love to argue about books, acquire them, express strong opinions about them, etc, etc, more than ever we seem to be losing the knack of reading them."

It seems to Miller that we are faking cultural literacy; consuming 'Art' has become more about ticking boxes and basking in culture's reflected glory rather than in its actual glow.
He quotes the writer Eleanor Catton's perception:

"Consumerism," she writes, "requiring its products to be both endlessly desirable and endlessly disposable, cannot make sense of art, which is neither."

Could we add that we are also losing the art of listening?
Particularly listening to music.
Is your iPod and Spotify on 'Shuffle' folks?
Do you rely on suggested Playlists for your musical ennui?
I know that I do; and I rally against such thoughtless behaviour.
We all do it and deny ourselves the pleasure of a progressive listen.
I believe that artists still ponder long and hard on segues.
I know that I do...
Come on.
What was the last album you listened to top to tail?
Be honest now.
Please list them below; I need some inspiration.
This morning I listened straight to the new Joe Henry album 'Invisible Hour'.

"It wasn't peace I wanted and it wasn't peace I found..."
These are his first words and I'm totally connected.
"… and our very blood tastes like honey now".

And then, before I knew it… the album finishes.
I'd been lost; an invisible hour indeed.
I hit replay and… it's even better 2nd time.
I'm currently on my 4th rotation and… not one cup of coffee needed.

"What matters to us, awash in petabytes of data, is not necessarily having actually consumed content first-hand but simply knowing that it exists."

Please, and you'll thank me for this, find your new favorite 'album' today.
I recommend Joe Henry's new 'Invisible Hour' but Roddy Frame's 'Seven Dials', Cherry Ghost's 'Herd Runners' and John Smith's 'Great Lakes' are up there too.
I know that I'm probably preaching to the choir but… it's great to rediscover a lost pleasure.
It made me remember my first listening of Springsteen's 'Darkness on the Edge of Town'.
I was quivering like a s***ting dog; at the end of side two I was singing like a tuning fork.
I know, it's bleeding obvious advice, like 'don't drink too much' or 'floss', but some times we all need to be reminded of the bleeding obvious.
Turn off the TV, lose your phone, let the laptop battery go flat.
Source (or even buy) 'Invisible Hour' and for 50 minutes, sit back and reevaluate your losses.
Then make those losses beloved!
Here endeth..

Here's a sure 'Sign' of the man's greatness:

And another beauty; 'Slide':

Monday, 25 August 2014

The Purbeck Festival

I've just got home from a fairly challenging weekend at The Purbeck Folk Festival. 
It's set on a splendid little peninsular in Dorset, just up from the Jurassic Coast.

Four days surrounded by other people's noisy children, dressed in onesies (them, not us) and seemingly training for future life in a circus. We resided in a yurt and could be found permanently balancing our bums atop that now infamous 'long drop' before taking gloriously cold showers whilst standing in other peoples drippings... I think that they should introduce the practice as a replacement for the much maligned idea of National Service for toughening up the young or feeble minded. Four days of that prepares you for anything.
Di and Lou (our neighbor) had arrived early and were keen for our company. Di welcomed me with 'They're all into Bread', which I took to be a sure sign of middle age and quality control; whisper it, but I like a bit of David Gates myself. I said as much and the girls looked at me strangely until I realized that Di was making a disparaging remark about the bloodline of some of our camping neighbors... Aaah... 'They're all interbred...' I've got to admit that there was a high count of overbites and wandering Adam's apples. We tried not to make eye contact. And these weren't the cheap seats; this was the posh 'glamping' area; cordoned off with red tape and everything...

The music on offer was a real mixed bag, it seemed that most of the musicians were struggling with the austerity and stink too. Chris Wood was grey, grizzled and gloriously grumpy, poking at our comfort and conscience; breaking our hearts with his social commentaries and domestic dramas. 
'My Darling's Downsized' was just exquisite.

Emily Barker (resplendent in a 'C*untry' Ain't a Dirty Word T shirt) and the Red Clay Halo were pretty damned fine too; their new album 'Dear River' is cracking and received a full airing.  
This particular song kept the bottom lip wobbling after Wood...

In contrast, Eddie Reader was a joyful bundle of newly wed bliss. Boo Hewerdine was there too, to keep an eye on proceedings, and did a sterling job.
The live highlight was a surprise. I've got all Turin Brakes' albums; liked but never loved. 
Live they were just awesome; a tight four piece; two guitars, bass and drums. It was a good old fashioned show. Exhilarating in fact. This clip is from elsewhere but gives you a taste of the dynamic...

Lloyd Cole played solo and also seemed to be suffering 'The Long Drop' blues. There sure seemed to be a bad smell under his nose. He didn't have much to say but when he did chat it was mumbled, acidic and arch. He wore a velvet jacket and slippers and played a fine set, re-imaginings of a fine back catalogue; brutally edited; I think that 'Rattlesnakes' was barely 2 minutes long. He encored with 'Forest Fire' which of course lacked that awesome guitar solo but was still fairly incendiary. 

We drove home this morning in horizontal rain to upright loos with soft toilet paper and warm baths.
And then I opened up my laptop and the first email awaiting me was this from Toronto Tim. 
Strange serendipity...


I just stumbled across this video of a recent Lloyd Cole show. 
You know how I've been moaning about how LC seems to be terminally glum, and getting a little long in the tooth to "rock"? 
Well the bugger has proven me wrong. 
Seems that he's having a ball here performing a blazing version of "Forest Fire" with a stellar band of Glasgow mates he's assembled, calling themselves The Leopards. Mick Slaven (Deacon Blue), Dougie MacIntyre (Love & Money), Campbell Owens (Aztec Camera), Jim Gash (Pearlfishers/Ricky Ross) & one of my favorite organists of all time (along with Federici & Tench) - longtime LC cohort Blair Cowan. 
A fan spliced together this video with uploads of 4 other fans at the concert and did a pretty nice job. Low budget but fantastic!

Old Lloyd or Young Lloyd... Which do you prefer?

FOREST FIRE (live 1985 - Munich):  Lloyd Cole and The Commotions - Forest Fire (Live HQ)

Sunday, 17 August 2014

The Hat Club: Boo Hewerdine: September 27th

Barry Cross is a very clever man.
He designs the CD covers for Miracle Mile and my solo stuff.
He's also doing the posters for our music venue The Hat Club, which is hosted in the bar of my local Squash Club in Beaconsfield. 

As you can see we have the stupendous Boo Hewerdine playing on September 27th. 
If you'd like to come and see Boo in an intimate setting, please get your name on the club clipboard asap.
£10 will reserve you a place.
If you are a non member and are reading this, please just email me for details at

Boo is rightfully regarded by those in the know as one of this county's finest singer song-writers.
I've been following his career since I first saw him as a spotty youth (me, not him), playing with his band The Bible. 
One of his songs in particular is probably responsible for me wanting to be in a band.
Yes, he's is to blame for my wasted youth... thanks Boo!
That song was 'Graceland'.

Boo has since gone on to develop a successful solo career and as a songwriter for other artists, notably Eddie Reader, for whom he wrote the gorgeous 'Patience of Angels'. 
Here's his take:

For more info on Boo Hewerdine please have a look at his website here.
It's going to be a cracking night.
Don't miss out...

Please also take note of other future Hat Club presentations:
October 18th: David Bridie
November 8th: Peter Bruntnell
December 13th: Raevennan Husbandes

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Lovesong: Gramercy Arms: Beautiful Disguise

I'm loving this.

Gramercy Arms are a Supergroup, a collaborative that's masterminded by songwriter/producer Dave Derby (left).
Their 2nd album is 'The Seasons of Love' and features a magnificently motley crew; the likes of Lloyd Cole, Joan Wasser (Joan As Police Woman), Tanya Donelly (Belly, Throwing Muses), Matthew Caws (Nada Surf), Kendall Meade (Sparklehorse), Claudia Gonson (Magnetic Fields), Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices), Erin Moran (A Girl Called Eddy), Renee LoBue (Elk City), Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo) and others.
The new single from the album 'Beautiful Disguise' features Lloyd Cole and Joan Wasser, and comes with a gem of a video, replete with sonorous shadows and moody menace.
The album will be the soundtrack to my weekend.

Sunday, 3 August 2014


Here's where I hand the page over to the enthusiasms of Toronto's very own Tim Patrick:

A couple of sweet pieces of ear candy by Jenny Lewis. Reminds me of Fleetwood Mac, circa Tango In The Night. She has a new release called "The Voyager" produced by Ryan Adams, who does a fine job providing an accessible west-coast 70/80's style pop sheen to the entire album. Fittingly, Jeff "Skunk" Baxter of Steely Dan/Doobies fame lays down some tasty guitar work on my favorite track, "She's Not Me".  Benmont Tench of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers lends his always excellent keyboard talents & Beck Hansen also makes a nice cameo on "One Of The Guys".

I must say that I've never been a fan of the quirky brand of indie-rock Lewis or her band Rilo Kiley produced. She always seemed to be in self-loathing, angsty chic mode & wallowing in the sleazy LA cesspool of kinky sex and dope. Except for a couple of references to blow-jobs, coke and a menage a trois she's managed to tone down the tawdriness this time. And whilst the lyrical focus is on confessional middle-aged gal angst, the ever-catchy variety of pop-songwriting musical styles she adopts has won me over. 
Slick pop music from a decidedly female POV - a guilty pleasure for sure, but it's summertime and I'm liking it anyway


Saturday, 2 August 2014

Palestine: Discuss

"To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society." 
Theodore Roosevelt

Mmm. I seem to be getting tied into rants, raves and discussions regarding events in Palestine.
In London we are physically distant, dispassionate, disinterested, displaced but… I truly want to understand so that I can have an informed opinion and therefore make some kind of informed comment. This surely is how things will change. Once we have the tools to dissect the dissimulations, the misinformation, the rhetoric, the pious propaganda from both sides, once we can get beyond the spite that loss provokes… then maybe we, the dispassionate and disinterested, can start making informed demands on our own government. Britain was hugely influential in the partitioning of Palestine; it was the UN who offered up Palestine (then a British colony) as a refuge to a persecuted Jewish people, but in a place where others already lived. The indigenous Palestinians were bound to be ruffled; their unwelcome guests became the home owners, the home owners became the unwanted guests. After the partitioning (which involved confiscation of land, effectively erasing hundreds of Palestinian towns and communities) and creation of Israel in 1947, by 1949 Israel controlled 78% of Palestine. The new State then excluded or made beholden the folk that originally called Palestine 'home'. By giving Jewish refugees a home the UN effectively created a new set of refugees and a new set of resentments.
And, ok… whilst it does seem obvious that currently Hamas are keen to create a wave of nausea against Israel by parading the bodies of Palestinian woman and children, and seem to be cynically creating those moments by throwing stones at Israel so that they throw rockets back, producing propaganda possibilities etc… Israel is too efficient, too well funded, too indignant…
Having 'the right' doesn't necessarily make things 'right'.
The trouble is that it is such a complicated story (or is presented as such); tangled misinformation, webs of lies FROM BOTH SIDES that sometimes it needs demystifying.
Too many fatalities suggest that these are wounds that will take generations to heal; raw revenge and resentments run deep, fester, last lifetimes… It's apparent that Israel currently has the right to defend its moral high ground; it's their invasive action and the previous actions of the UN that permitted the partitioning, and all that that preceded that… that's what I'm interested in. I want to understand the history of the troubles. It's a fascinating microcosm of human behavior as well as a heartbreaking indictment of the lengths that people will go to, and the depths that they'd stoop to, to create or protect the simplest of human rights: a place to call 'home'.
Maybe it's time for us all to dumb down and get naive… so, excuse me for this but…

- All folk have a right to a place to call home.

- War bad.

- Peace good.

- Let's have peace talks that aren't orchestrated or manipulated by Super Powers.

- Jew kiss Arab.

- Arab kiss Jew.

- Forget.

- Forgive.

- Be kind.

- Be kind.

- Be kind.

I'm reading a book review over on a Seamus Duggan's Vapour Trails blog on 'The Sound of Things Falling' by Juan Gabriel Vásquez. A couple of quotes resonate:

"Then I realized no one wants to hear heroic stories, but everyone likes to be told about someone else's misery… Adulthood brings with it the pernicious illusion of control. Disillusion comes sooner or later, but it always comes, it doesn't miss an appointment, it never has."

"I was also surprised by the alacrity and dedication we devote to the damaging exercise of remembering, which after all brings nothing good and serves only to hinder our normal functioning, like those bags of sand athletes tie around their calves for training."

Might I add my own quote:
"Your head bone's connected to your… heart bone.
Ain't that the word of The Lord?"

And that Lord, in whose name so many horrors and acts of terrorism have been committed and excused, He who seems to make righteous all wrongs, He isn't yours, or mine; He is ours; our creation. He doesn't just forgive our sins; he seems to absolve them. Shame on us all then, I guess…

This post is simplistic, contradictory and ill informed; I know that.
Ironic that the writer of a piece about partitioning is effectively sitting on the fence.
I'm aware that the story didn't start in 1947; my 'virtual' mate Phil Hogarth has taught me that…
At least it gives a solid/simplistic platform to either stand on or kick over…
I need to know, to understand.
Please help me to understand.
I'm all ears...

Monday, 28 July 2014

Lovesong: WOMAD 2014

WOMAD 2014 was great.
Di got there Friday and tells me that the pick of the day were Chicha Libra's Cumbian surf guitar riffs and moogs and the New Orleans swampy jazz funk of Trombone Shorty.
I arrived on Saturday and met up with Kathryn Williams who played a great set. Youssou N'Dour was reliably excellent as were Snarky Puppy, jazz/funkbutnotshite. Fat Freddy's Drop were workmanlike but fun, Alice Russel (cabaret soul but fantastic raspy voice!) Dakha Brakha were unclassifiable, Ukrain 'ethno chaos' with a little bit of Sigor Ros' icy beauty thrown in… Also I really liked Francois and the Atlas Mountains who are a bit fey on record but were stunning live. Nitin Sawney was at his usual humorless brilliant best. A Sunday highspot was Fatoumata Diawara and Buena Vista's Roberto Fonesca (Mali meets Cuba) which had all of the vibrancy of Africa with some subtle jazz shadings that allowed Fatoumata's voice flight and fancy.
We ran for the carpark as soon as we saw Sinead O'Connor but it was a grand weekend; food was fabulous, people chilled, children kept to a minimum… Di danced her ass off whilst I did that pointy fingered 'I've got some chewing gum stuck on my foot' strut that awaits all doomed middle aged men. And all of this after sleeping rough in an 'L' shape in a Mini in the car park. If anyone tells you that they are 'like a Tardis on the inside' they are either a liar or double jointed. Di won the battle of the blanket!
The only real disappointment (apart from the untimely tragic death of planned Sunday headliner Bobby Womack) was that I overlooked seeing a current favorite of mine Vinicio Capossela whose Tom Waits' collection must be as big as mine.
Here's a taste of what we missed…

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Lovesong: Bruce Springsteen: Hunter of the Invisible Game

I remember during that 3 year gap between 1975's 'Born to Run' and the release in 1978 of 'Darkness on the Edge of Town' that a few high profile Directors were courting Bruce. He was going to be the new Pacino. Thank God that he resisted. Bowie and Sting proved that it's best to stick at what you're best at… the public are pretty unforgiving when it comes to mediocrity.
See also Eric Cantona...
But this short film/promo for 'Hunter of the Invisible Game' is excellent; it shows Bruce in the unflinching light of character actor.
No 'vanity project' this.
Bruce looks knackered!
The best song on 'High Hopes' (by a mile) now has some haunting visuals.
I'm not sure what it's all about but it sure is beguiling...

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

To the Bone: Reviews: Vapour Trails

" It is like being privy to an intimate confession."

Here is a fantastic review of 'To the Bone' from Irish writer Seamus Duggan on his fine site; Vapour Trails.
Seamus is a perceptive and fearless writer who inevitably gets... right to the heart of the matter.
Excuse the platitude but it seems apt here.
His is a sanguine world view; worldly and (yes, hallelujah!) wordy; once you have visited his knocking shop, you'll surely return.
Enter the Vapour Trails site here:

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

To the Bone: Reviews: R2 Magazine

This 5***** review just in from R2 Magazine (Issue 46/July & August).
Many thanks to Jeremy Searle.


To The Bone
(MEME RECORDS)           

Has there ever been a more gorgeous introduction to an album than that which starts ‘Phil the Hat’ on Trevor Jones’ latest outing? If there has this reviewer hasn’t heard it, and the rest of the music never slips from that peak. Jones is of course one half of perfect popsters Miracle Mile and his musical compadre Marcus Cliffe is all over this album, making it nearer to Miracle Mile’s sound than his previous solo outings.

It’s a masterpiece of subtlety and delicacy - songs to immerse yourself in; late night listening with a glass of something decent. Every couplet makes you think, every chorus makes you soar. The sound is richly layered but never over-polished, the vocals just so, the words exactly right. Writing a review of an album as good as this feels superfluous, mere gilding of the lily. It doesn’t need ‘articulating’ or ‘explaining’, its power and beauty is sufficient in itself. All that needs to be said is that you won’t hear a better album this year.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Toronto Tim Says: Brooooce!

Here's where I hand my page over to my Canadian mucker Tim Patrick. I'm actually just copying in his latest email (hope that's ok Tim) but he's always an engaging writer...
Here comes TT

Musically, I'm currently on a "Bruce binge" - having finally picked up the Peter Ames Carlin bio... leading me to re-watch the DVD's of the making of ''Born To Run' / 'Darkness'. Always fascinating. I'm 2/3 way though the book's 500 pages, and thus far I don't hate Bruce. He was a wildly eccentric character in his early years. Brilliant, tempermental, humble, stubborn as a mule. His pursuit of his musical vision tireless & relentless. And there's no doubt that he is "The Boss". Some wonderful stories about how down-to-earth/miserly he was. My fave - Even just before 'Born In The USA' came out he was still touring in an old van, renting used cars, and living in a very modest rented house in Jersey with harldly any furniture other than a pinball machine and a bed. So Bruce and his girlfriend would drive around the neighborhod on trash-night, and pick up old furniture left at the curb. Love it!
However, 2/3 in, I'm at the the part where suddenly beef-cake Bruce is on MTV "Dancing in the Dark" with Courteney Cox, and the "compromises" begin, I'm afraid. So much for the "I'll never play stadiums / I'll never intentionally write a "single" for a record / I'll never make a video / I'll never mix politics & music, blah, blah, blah..." This is the place where I mutinied on BS temporarily back in 1984. We'll see what happens as I progress with the read... I'm pretty sure I'll be able to forgive him in the end, unlike some musician bio's I've read... Clapton / Van / Macca / Mozza / Eagles / Marvin Gaye, even Sir Cliff - narcissistic, self-destructive egomaniacs all. OK, Cliff's not self-destructive, but unbelievably vain & self-righteous. I've yet to read Mr. Sting's autobiography. 
Oh, we've come full circle!
Anyway, the Bruce binge has me revisiting glory days... Memories of a 1978 concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, indelible... even on my increasingly forgetful noggin. The 10 minute epic performance of "Prove It All Night" stands out as the most electrifying live performance I've ever witnessed. (I know you've seen this one before) but - It was exactly like this: 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Toronto Tim Says: 'To the Bone': The Review

My good Canadian friend Tim Patrick occasionally hijacks these pages to wax lyrical. 
Usually about some new musical wonder that has sideswiped him.
His latest salvo is a little closer to home.
Here he assesses my latest album 'To the Bone' and, bugger me, he likes it!
He's also posted this on Amazon (as have, currently Fleetwood Mac and David Ashley.)
Thanks too for those who have done this in the past; they really do help.
Come on the rest of you, why not do likewise.
Help shout it from the rooftops!

Here's Toronto Tim:

Toronto Tim says:


To the Bone

'To The Bone' - by Trevor Jones. Musically, the album title is apropos; the understated arrangements certainly a brave move, considering the majority of Miracle Mile/Jones discography tend to lean toward relatively polished & expansive productions, which I do happen to adore. However, sometimes a change is a good thing. The songs at first had me wanting for more, but then after a few listens, I realized they possess all that is needed. In fact, it's the deceptively simple arrangements that allow the poetic and profound lyrics to shine here.

The title also applies to the album subject matter... very personal, honest and sometimes heartbreaking. Seems like a record perhaps Jones needed to make as a form of catharsis, rather than necessarily wanting to be made. As with all Miracle Mile/Jones work, the words are extremely thoughtful and moving, yet lyrically oblique enough that the listener can take ownership in such a way that they become quite individually special. I dare anyone with a heart to listen to "Somewhere North Of Here" and not be forever touched. A perfect blend of brilliant melody/musical arrangement and intensely moving poetry. A stunning song of empathy, encouragement, perseverance, & devotion...

So, is there any chance that an introspective, sparse record from a barely recognizable artist will be a hit in this day & age? Not really. I just feel sorry for the throngs of folk who won't even know this wonderful record exists. With over a dozen albums worth of exquisite music made for thinking/feeling adults under his belt, I have to honestly say - IF THERE'S A BETTER SINGER/SONGWRITER IN THE UNIVERSE THAN TREVOR JONES... I DON'T KNOW WHO IT IS.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

To the Bone: Radio Play

To the Bone is starting to pick up some local radio play.
Here's notice of the latest, on the excellent singer/songwriter/radio presenter Johnny Coppin's show on BBC Radio Gloucester.
Johnny's latest album 'Borderland' is a lovely thing and here's a review.
You'll read that has covered on of my own songs 'Homeward'; I'm more than chuffed with the result as he re-imagines my grumbling guitar ballad on the piano with a quiet and delicate grace...
Details of the show are below, including the initial playlist.
Talk about a thorn between two roses...
Why not listen in?

BBC RADIO PLAYLIST – on BBC Gloucestershire,

on Sat 28th JUNE 2014 at 5.30pm

1. SUZANNE VEGA – Don’t Uncork What You Can’t Contain (3.31) Track 1 – single from new album TALES FROM THE REALM OF THE QUEEN OF PENTACLES on Cooking Vinyl FRYCD 573P (Suzanne Vega- PRS)

2. JONES – Phil The Hat (3.40) Track 1 from new album TO THE BONE on Meme Records CDMM 18 (Trevor Jones – PRS)

3.   CARA DILLON – Moorlough Mary (3.46) Track 4 from new album A THOUSAND HEARTS on Sony 8884 3069482 (Trad arr Cara Dillon/ Sam Lakeman- PRS)

4.   PETE COE AND ALICE JONES – One Summer’s Morning (4.56) Disc 1 Track 1 from new double CD – IN SEARCH OF FIVE FINGER FRANK on Backshift Music BASHCD 61 (Trad arr Pete Coe/Alice Jones- Backshift Music)

5.   PETE COE AND ALICE JONES – Shule Agra (3.33) Disc 1 Track 10 from new double CD – IN SEARCH OF FIVE FINGER FRANK on Backshift Music BASHCD 61 (Trad arr Pete Coe/Alice Jones- Backshift Music)

6.   CARRIVICK SISTERS – Making Horses (3.41) Track 5 from OVER THE EDGE on own label CVCD 2013 (Charlotte Carrivick – PRS)

7.   HOME SERVICE – Alright Jack (2.59) Track 1 from LIVE 1986 on Fledg’ling FLED 3085 (John Tams/Home Service – PRS)