Some interesting recent listening

Back when I was in school (late 80s), we had a small group of friends who would all head down to fat george’s record shop on Bridge Street in Berwick on a Saturday morning to order records… any old records… the more obscure the better.

In those pre-internet times, the source of all knowledge about what was available was the Music Maker Publications big red book of records, which listed just about everything that was on general release.

I bought some great stuff through that, and some total bollocks. Great stuff, like Steve Berry – ‘Trio’, John Zorn – ‘Spillane’, the best of Weather Report etc. etc… and some rubbish like ‘Electric Storm in Hell’ by White Noise…

One record that we all really wanted to get but could never find was ‘Ladies Don’t Have Willies’ by a band called 64 Spoons. It seemed like the most preposterous title for a single – add to that the daft band name, and we had to know what it sounded like. But sadly, week after week, George couldn’t find it, it was out of print… whatever, it never turned up.

Fast forward 15 years, and in the last two tours I’ve done, with the Schizoid Band and Level 42, I’ve been touring with two ex-members of said Spoons! Jakko Jakszyk (guitar/vox with Schizoids) and Lyndon Conner (keys/vox with L42) were both in 64 Spoons!

Enter not-at-all-evil Dann, delving deep into his extensive CD collection to provide an early 90s compilation of Spoonerisms from the late 70s/early 80s… and bizarrely enough, it’s pretty good. Very good in places. Very silly and self conscious in other places, but sort of Squeeze meets Cat-Food era Crimson, meets Joe Jackson with a touch of Blockheads-funk… The kind of thing, that were it more widely known, would now be forcing people onto the dance floor at schooldisco.com events.

Still haven’t heard Ladies Don’t Have Willies though…

After that, the next CD I listened to couldn’t be more different Juldeh Camara is a West African singer/composer and player of the one string fiddle! I first heard his stuff on Charlie Gillett’s show on BBC London, but then met up with Duncan Noble – a bassist who has assembled a touring project with Juldeh, playing in the UK early next year.

It’s amazing how Juldeh manages to keep your attention… even mesmerise you with just fiddle and voice. And judging by the range of material on the CDR that Duncan gave me, he’s more than happy to recontextualise his playing and writing into whatever setting is around, from acoustic blues to funk/soul stuff… I really hope that their tour doesn’t clash with my dates in California next year, as I’d love to see this live…

Finally got stuck into the last chapter of Derek Bailey’s ‘Improvisation – its nature and practice in music’ book last night. It’s an amazing book, but I do have a habit of dropping books somewhere in or around the last chapter… seems to be a theme running through my life (do half the washing up, write half a song, tidy half my office, etc. etc…)

Anyway, the last chapter is all about the Musicians Improvisors Collective (MIC – I think that’s what it stands for…), and is very interesting indeed. The whole book is very highly recommended for anyone interested in improv and its relationship to music making as a whole…

Busy day today – meeting Jam-comedy-writer this afternoon, and going to see Moby play tonight… well, going to meet up with Greta Brinkman, who happens to be playing with Moby. Evil Harv’s coming as well, so that’ll be my dose of eville for the week sorted then…

before that, need to tidy up here, as my mum arrives for a short stay later on. Always nice to see my mum, cos she’s great!

So much to do…

Teaching Schedule is now filling up, which is good… I asked my
students to get back in touch in early December, so the eager ones
are on it already and my diary is taking shape, which is nice…

Still feeling jet-lagged from the tour, sleeping late, sitting up late…
need to get back round the right way by the weekend.

Just found the site of a band called Dapp Theory
– jazz outfit based in NYC who have collaborated with Bruce
Cockburn on their album that’s out in January… very interesting
stuff. have a listen to the track Trickle Down on their website…

Right what now? need to go and post CD orders (mail order
ones, CC orders from evinsol.co.uk and from gemm.com
– it’s getting harder to keep track of what’s happening where!
Gemm seems like a very good set up though. I’ve only had the
stuff listed there a day or two and am already getting orders
daily from them, so I guess people must be looking for it! That’s
heartening… :o)

Also need to mail out all the review copies that I bagged up yesterday
– it’s going to be a fun trip to the post office with 40 jiffy bags or
something this afternoon!

Oh, and at some point soon I need to take the flight case back to
the Bass Centre that they so kindly lent to me for the L42
tour – this little Ashdown rig of mine, with the 4×8,
1×10 and 500W head, all fits into one normal 4×10 cabinet flight
case!! A whole rig in one medium sized case.. how cool is that?

Not Dancing For Chicken????

This was posted in the old blog format, but I thought I’d
repost it here as you may well have come looking for it now…
Here’s the explanation of where the ‘Not Dancing For Chicken’
album title came from…

Back in about 1992, MC Hammer was attempting a comeback,
and was doing the rounds in the press claiming to be from the
street, down with the kids etc. etc. Meanwhile, he was also
doing ads for KFC, and they were sponsoring the tour. At a
New York press conference it all got too much, and one young
journo asked Hammer what on earth he was doing. Hammer
replied ‘Hey, I’m just dancing for money’, to which the journo
replied ‘No, you’re dancing for chicken’.

Fast forward best part of a decade, and british comedian Mark
Lamarr is doing an interview with London listings magazine,
Time Out, and he recounts the story before explaining that for
him, ‘Dancing For Chicken’ has become the perfect metaphor
for all those corporate gigs that musicians/comedians/actors/etc.
have to do just to pay the bills, and the ones where the money
is so insane that all but the most ethically-minded of performers
will take them (like TV ads for a fast food giant with a dubious
health and safety record…).

At the time the phrase struck a chord with me as the antithesis
of everything that I’m trying to do with my solo career – I haven’t
chased a record deal, I haven’t made a smooth jazz CD in a bid
for radio airplay, I haven’t done a completely ambient recording
in a bid for new age stardom. I just do what I do, and if people
like it, great, if they don’t, fair enough… As it is, the last couple
of months of big tours and great CD sales have been vindication
of this route, but the business plan still stands intact. If it all falls
apart, I need to have music that I’m proud of, that represents
me. So I’ll continue to soundtrack the inside of my head, and
avoid Dancing For Chicken if I can in anyway steer clear of it… :o)

Celebrity Big Brother – nonsense

Just finished watching Celeb Big Brother – what nonsense.
I know, I know – I watched it so I can’t complain… well, I
am kind of fascinated by reality TV… what is it that makes
it interesting? Why do we give a monkeys about 6 celebs
we wouldn’t turn over to watch if they were on anything
else? Sue is the only one of these I ever bother to wathc or
listen to doing anything else (her weekend lunchtime show with
Mel on Radio London is one of the finest things on radio…)

So why did I watch? I guess it’s that continued hope that it’s going
to suddenly become really interesting… like surfing the net way
beyond the point where you’ve exhausted all the things you really
wanted to look at, in the hope that you’ll find something fascinating…
which never happens…

Anyway, changing the subject entirely, this particular blog setup can
allow for a ‘comments’ function, where you blog-stalkers can post
responses to my dull ramblings… a function I’d love to use… if it
wasnt’ for evil harv’s evil schemes, and his total in ability to stop
himself from posting shit, given the chance…

soundtrack – been listening to the Best of Howard Jones
this evening, which brings back fab memories of touring with him
back in 1999, and contains some excellent songs (the definitive
versions, to my ears, of which are on his ‘Live Acoustic America’
CD, which the small person has stolen, so I couldn’t listen to
that just now…)

Also been listening to more of that new Keith Jarrett CD – good stuff.

Just got an email from not-at-all-evil Dann, who is a very fine writer,
who has just posted a couple of reviews of gigs involving me onto the
‘Evo’ site – the first one is of the 21st Century Schizoid Band and me
live in Croydon
, and the second one is of the manring/friesen/lawson gig
at Ocean in Hackney
– both well worth checking out. As is the rest
of the Evo site.

New Blog! New Blog!

here we go – new blog! This is much better than my scabby
old HTML version – big thanks to James from Delicatessen for
setting this one up for me. It looks neater, is searchable, and
I can update it from anywhere, which is rather fun…

So the old blog can still be found here, so
you can have a read of that, if you’ve not been here before…

Right, I’m off to make some dinner!