This is a short playlist of some music that I feel speak to the day and age that we find ourselves in.
Whew, let me catch my breath. Crawford Mack has released an album that isn’t just an ordinary recording. This album, Bread & Circuses takes my breath away, and I’m not even jumping up every 17.5 minutes to flip the record over, pick the needle up and find more on the other side.
The album opens with the powerhouse track, Life Changing Moment, which Crawford Mack tells us is about keeping one’s options open. This song builds tension effortlessly adding instruments as it goes along, and then closes with a joyous chuckle, which sounds appropriate after a song that made me smile.
Track two is a single previously reviewed on WeatheredMusic, Depends On Where You Stand, it has stood up well since its release.
A snapshot from Crawford Mack himself:
“A Love I Can’t Live Up To:
I put you on a pedestal so I could disappoint you.
A ‘how-not-to guide’ to happiness featuring realisations that came far too late.”
Four tracks in we come across the song “William” which has become my favourite from this album, Bread & Circuses. Again, I will let Crawford Mack speak for himself:
“When I was a very young (probably around 3 or 4 years old) boy in Aberdeen I had what I guess you’d class as an imaginary friend called William. My parents were fine with this until they became spooked by me describing him; I described someone in a First World War British army uniform in a level of detail that was hard to comprehend me being able to conjure up at that age.
I was once playing an imaginary game by myself, well with William, at the end of my old street. We were tearing little leaves off of a hedge and throwing them up in the air shouting “We’re rich!”, suddenly started shouting at me to run up the street as fast as I could. Moments later, a car crashed into where I had just been standing.
My short legs can’t run that far,
Cos the car that crashed on Carden nearly took my breath.
Oh William did you save someone’s son William?
For the avoidance of doubt, I’m fully aware of how utterly mental this sounds. I’m not an especially superstitious person in general, but it’s always made me wonder what happened; whether or not I was saved by William, and if I was then where was he as I made a litany of mistakes throughout the rest of my life? What would my friend think of the world as it is today? Would he have perhaps thought it worth any sacrifices he may or may not have made?
Are there neon signs where there were front lines?
Imagine Maginot, where the flowers never grow at the best of times.
Did they put your name on the Menin Gate?
Keeping company with the bloodline rushing through my veins.
Did you save someone’s son William?
During writing this track Jamie and I started to speak about hypothetical theories concerning whether the present could affect the past as well as vice-versa, and it dawned on me that if that were the case, maybe it was my responsibility to warn William of the dangers he was about to face and the ultimate futility of sending people to an early grave. Hence the shilling line alluding to the King’s shilling he may have received for his service:
Sting a sting of roses
The guns are fully loaded
The bayonets and poppy-heads are screaming bloody Moses
A military manoeuvre
The morphine’s there to sooth you.
I’d give you my last shilling cos the Crown will never rule you.
The song derives its musical influences from three main inspirations:
Nick Drake and John Martyn’s open guitar tunings.
Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley’s vocal stylings.
NIN’s ability to make a rhythm section feel sinister and drive momentum whilst playing at slow tempos. As soon as that influence was described to Richard Rayner (drums) and Jack Tustin (Bass) I could just sit back and let them find their parts around the harmony and guitar lines Jamie, and I had written.”
Track five is a song called Turning which confused me; I’ll let Crawford Mack give his take on this track and then I will share my two bits worth.
“I sat in a songwriting lecture tensing each and every sinew of my body so as not to combust and rant the house down as a lecturer reflected that most people don’t even bother listening to lyrics anymore, so there isn’t the same pressure for them to be brilliant, just make it a short intro and get to the chorus quickly.
I spent most of the remainder of that class considering the implications of committing our experiences, hopes and fears and those of the people we encounter to song, and subsequently to record.
I remember thinking that the decline of music as a physical product has led to this being taken less seriously by artists and consumers alike. Then I started to think of all the work that goes into making that product possible; from the recording process, the cover art to whoever has mixed chlorine and ethylene to make polyvinyl. If you’re going to put out a legacy of work, then at least consider what else has gone into making it possible.
I built a scenario in my head where somebody places a record written by an old lover of theirs and asked whether the experience would bring closure, longing or outright disdain.
As the needle picks me up, once again you hear my voice.
I wonder if it sounds the same wandering through all that pain?
As the needle picks me up, I have left you with the choice,
Left myself nowhere to hide, find me on the other side.
So no, it’s not a song about drugs. I can’t stand needles.”
Crawford Mack sings: “As the needle picks me up“, an obvious allusion to a record player, and later on he says, “find me on the other side“, side B of a vinyl record, a physical medium. My favourite medium by the way. However, in the intro to the song, he laments the “decline of music as a physical product”. I would like him to sing that “once again you hear my voice” on a vinyl record. But I can’t; there is no option to purchase a physical copy, not even a CD or cassette. Alas, the only options are digital streaming or buying a digital copy.
Please Mr Mack, could you cut this to vinyl, please? I highly recommend my friend Todd at Moonshot Phonographs which is in the process of being rebranded as Flashback Records Inc., you can give him a call at Phone: (587) 501-6461
“I wonder if it sounds the same“? No, it doesn’t vinyl sounds different from digital.
I am “wandering through all that pain” of not having a physical copy.
I would love to be able to say that “As the needle picks me up, once again you hear my voice.” my ears pick up the dulcet sounds of your music and singing.
“I have left you with the choice,” I have left you with a choice, but I left myself nowhere to hide.
I hope the day will come when I can say that I found on the other side. For today I am content with listening to this glorious album on iTunes.
The rest of the album is just as good as the songs above; in other words, they are amazing.
Bread & Circuses:
I’ve had the idea of this song for years. It’s been through so many iterations I can barely keep track. Initially, it was a song begging for an end to the political establishment as was. What I wouldn’t give to bring back those halcyon days though, before Michael Gove uttered that “People are tired of hearing from experts” and our national media outlets gave fringe lunatics of the far-right a platform that brought them prestige and credence in the name of balance, before it was possible to micro-target voters with falsehoods before the truth had time realise, let alone get its pants on.
Propping up a system feeding off the press,
Everybody’s choking on the Eton mess.
Using immigration, they focus on the skin
Diverting the attention to cover up their sins.
I was turned onto the phrase ‘Bread & Circuses’ by reading writings from the Roman poet Juvenal, via Montaigne. The phrase refers to the increase of the grain supply and Gladiator matches to placate potential civil unrest or revolution.
Sadly I feel that the political sphere has become its own theatre of late, let alone needing to create new distractions. We have a government seemingly unable to play by acceptable rules of engagement, and an opposition too insipid to do anything about it. It is maddening when you consider how much is on the line at this moment and time. My hope against hope is that the opposition and voters wishing to live in an inclusive, tolerant and compassionate country show some pragmatism, use their vote, and use it wisely.
“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions – everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: Bread & Circuses.” Juvenal, Satire 10.77–81
The Story Is No Longer Available:
The initial inspiration for this track came from me reading a piece on the damage caused to world heritage sites and sites of historical significance during the Syrian Civil war such as Bosra, Palmyra, Krak de Chevaliers, the Al Madina-Souq and Great Mosque of Aleppo, Damascus. The tragic list goes on and on.
As I went to bed that night a friend I haven’t seen in a while posted a ‘story’ to her Instagram and took it down immediately, all that was left was a slogan reading ‘This Story Is No Longer Available’.
It got me thinking about those tragedies that befell enlightenment and history all evening, the next day I was on a walk with Jamie, and a long chat ultimately came to a sober realisation of the fact that everything we have experienced and built is coming under the threat of premature decay and destruction if we do not change our attitudes to the consumption of resources and seek to offset our impact on climate change as a matter of urgency.
“We are the true disaster,
There is no sticking-plaster,
Don’t need an explanation.
More like a second chance.
No time for Mother Nature,
She doesn’t want to hate you.
Our finger’s on the trigger.
She had amazing stories.”
Gather me under your wings, and I’m onside.
How will the Butterfly sting if it cannot fly?
My partner and I were arguing in the build-up to making this record. She was away studying her masters, we were barely seeing each other, and a lack of communication combined with stress is just an absolute nightmare at times. I sat in Jamie’s front room, observing a butterfly with a clipped wing trying to fly and do what it is supposed to. I started to consider how frustrated it must feel, whether it would want to lash out at the world if it had a sting to do so whilst feeling so vulnerable and helpless?
As I came to my conclusions on the matter I realised I was actually describing how I felt about my own life, particularly my journey through the music industry: Hurt, frustrated, and without everything in place to do what I feel I’m supposed to. It was desperate.
I couldn’t communicate with my partner for fear I would fall to pieces and break everything we had built together from lashing out with my ‘sting’, admitting that I was not comfortable in the slightest and I needed that to be ok.
Whether the record works out or not, the cathartic experience of writing it has finally made me wrestle my demons whilst surrendering to them at the same time. Oriana came through for me with love and acceptance, and therefore the whole experience has been truly life-changing.
Promise me it doesn’t hurt Mr. Squadron Leader.
I’ve lived my life one bullet at a time.
I didn’t want to go to church where the firing squad sang requiems instead of a lullaby.
You tried to test my faith, but all you did was take away my dignity.
Aimed between the eyes, blew away my childhood memories.
Every time you twist the knife, I’ll play on your mind.
Be careful with the power you have over others; sometimes, your own actions will haunt you more than they ever could.
A diary of falling in and out of love with places and people following a split. However bizarre it may seem, I sincerely vouch for the veracity of every word.
So there we have it, a rather long post but this is not an ordinary album in my humble opinion. Happy listening and play safe.
I have been entranced by pieces of music and taken on wondrous journeys with the artists as the conductors. Some of those journeys start immediately; it is all aboard, here we go, and off we go like a brides pyjamas. Others are a more passive journey, more like rafting on the Martha Brae.
And then we have “I Was”, the soon to be released EP by Vaughan. It didn’t come out of the gates like a horse with its tail on fire, but on the other hand, it didn’t move at the pace of snail either. It was someplace in between that I don’t understand fully. The creator of this musical mischief is Vaughan. He describes the music this way: “With bare bones of voice and piano; I added the unexpected chord in the chorus as a way of symbolizing how love is the defining amongst the ordinary. A special moment that you can’t anticipate“.
“I Was” will rush forward now and then on the quick turn of a phrase or cradle us with a languid tempo that will creep up on you until you realize that you are nodding your head to the rhythm. This EP is mesmerizing, vigorous and enchanting all rolled into a package called “I Was”. Vaughan has nailed it on this EP. It drops on the 11th of November.
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1969 I bought my first LP, Best of Bee Gees, easily identified by its bright yellow cover. I have to resist the urge to write it as Best of the Bee Gees; there is no ‘the’ in there. I played that album over, and over, and over. I knew every word to every song. I can clearly remember laying on the floor with my head in the middle of the two speakers on my parent’s record player. I don’t recall them ever complaining about listening to it so often, mind you Dad was away from home most of the time, Mom kept herself busy, and I didn’t turn the volume up to 11.
That was the only album that I bought that year, but I did purchase other albums from 1969 later on. Some of those albums that are still on my turntable include The Guess Who with Wheatfield Soul. Bob Dylan’s Nashville Skyline and Crosby, Stills and Nash, the story of that is below. The Rolling Stones compilation Through The Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2), Isaac Hayes phenomenal album Hot Buttered Soul, Abbey Road from the Beatles, and closing it with some more Guess Who, the crop is Canned Wheat this time. Some call 1969 the penultimate year of rock and roll. It closed the door on the 1960s with the Beatles dissolving as a band, the hippy era drawing to a shadow of its former self ( it never really went away), and rock and roll reinventing itself going into the 1970s. I may have only purchased one LP that year, but it was still an excellent year.
In 1970 I was travelling more, bin flipping in more record stores and with a bit more coin I was able to take home more music. I also was good at sticky finger shopping. A memorable addition to my music library from that year was a copy of Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. I was introduced to this band by the clerk in a record store in Montreal. During layovers between flights, I would take a taxi to a nearby shopping mall that had a nice little record store, and the guy always had something good on the turntable that I would invariably take home. In 1969 he had Crosby, Stills & Nash on the turntable but I was short on cash so I just filed that away and in 1970 he had Déjà Vu up and playing, so that came home with me, Stills, Nash & Young would arrive later. Another special purchase that year was In the Court of the Crimson King by none other than King Crimson, although I heard it first in that same record store in 1969, like CSY, I had to wait a year to bring it home.
The list of albums released in 1970 is long, the list that I bought in 1970 is short, the two albums already mentioned and Woodstock: Music from the Original Soundtrack and More. I have a confession; I agreed to trade Woodstock to my friend Greg in exchange for the purple nazi helmet he had. I got the helmet, but he never got the album, and I have not seen him since then to make it right. If you ever read this, Greg, contact me, and I will ship the album to you. I do not have the helmet or the album as I write this. I also stole Suitable for Framing by Three Dog Night from the youth centre in Churchill Falls, Labrador. I don’t know who owned it, which makes restitution difficult. Some noteworthy albums from 1970 that I didn’t swipe and I am still spinning include Moondance by Van Morrison and The Who Live at Leeds. Atom Heart Mother by Pink Floyd is notable for its excellent cover art and a long-standing relationship between The Pink Floyd and me.
1971, a new year and some new music, I was back in Alberta and access to new music was a bit difficult living in the little town of Czar. I managed to snag Aqualung by Jethro Tull, which triggered an interesting event. My Mom, who was super religious and my Dad, who was super narrow-minded about music, challenged me about Aqualung, so the three of us listened to it and talked about the lyrics. I don’t know why they did that. It was a weird experience. Another memorable piece of music that I acquired in 1971 was Imagine by John Lennon. It was my birthday present from Mom, she didn’t like this one either, but we didn’t sit and listen to it together. After Aqualung they let me put the stereo in my bedroom, so they didn’t have to hear it. 1971 makes for a long list of releases that I still listen to, including 4 Way Street by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, an album that I consider one of the best live recordings of all time. Sticky Fingers by The Rolling Stones, another example of great cover art with its iconic zipper. It Ain’t Easy by Long John Baldry, and I brag that I managed to see him live at a show in a bar in Red Deer. I had a signed copy of the album cover from that show but lost it along life’s highway. A few other albums worth mentioning are A Space in Time by Ten Years After which I loved to listen to on the quadraphonic sound system that I briefly owned. The music surrounded my head and was very trippy, nod, nod, wink, wink. Who’s Next and Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy a pair of albums that year by The Who. Meddle by Pink Floyd and Pawn Hearts by Van der Graaf Generator kept my psychedelic groove going. Van der Graff Generator is an often overlooked band that I got into early in the 1970s and still enjoy listening to, especially the Pawn Hearts album.
Getting into 1972 I started the year with an oddity, Jamming with Edward! by The Rolling Stones, Nicky Hopkins, Ry Cooder and others. I can not describe this record; you need to listen to it, and even then there is only a 50/50 chance that you will get it. Rockpile, Dave Edmunds first solo record, I have a dozen of his solo albums and many others that he appeared on a guest. For some reason, I just liked Dave Edmunds. Harvest by Neil Young, doesn’t everyone have a copy of this one? Something/Anything? by Todd Rundgren, the song Black Maria is a standout for me on an otherwise good album. Machine Head by Deep Purple gave us several significant pieces, including the iconic Smoke On The Water. Obscured by Clouds another great album from Pink Floyd. Kris Kristofferson gave us Jesus Was a Capricorn which I still think is one of the best albums ever made. In any genre. In the psychedelic genre, I was rocking to The Magician’s Birthday by Uriah Heep.
I’ll close this brief disclosure on what I listened to as a young man. As a young boy, I heard my Dad play mostly Hank Williams, and we had a handful of country and western records that seldom got played. It was when I hit about 15 years old, 1969, that I got into serious listening. I’ll close out this era at 1973, the year that I graduated and transitioned from a schoolboy buying records with money from allowance and part-time jobs to a working man with a steady income. That steady income meant buying more records to play on the stereo that I bought so Mom and Dad could have theirs back. They had given it to me as a bribe to keep me in school till I graduated. It was a good investment. The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, I’ll let Wikipedia explain it.
“The Dark Side of the Moon is among the most critically acclaimed records in history, often featuring on professional listings of the greatest albums. The record helped to propel Pink Floyd to international fame, bringing wealth and recognition to all four of its members. It has been certified 14× platinum in the United Kingdom and topped the US Billboard Top LPs & Tapes chart, where it has charted for 950 weeks in total. With estimated sales of over 45 million copies, it is Pink Floyd’s most commercially successful album and one of the best-selling albums worldwide. In 2013, it was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.”
I bought this as an LP in 1973. I added an 8 track copy and a cassette later that year. As of today, October 12, 2020, there are ten copies of it in our music library in all of those formats. I can remember driving around town with the windows down and the volume up listening to DSotM over and over. Little has changed. I am a bit chubbier and have fewer hair follicles, and what hair I do have it is a lot shorter. Other than that, I still enjoy hearing this album, and I occasionally can yet be seen driving with the windows down and the volume up on DSotM.
There is one other album that defined 1973 for me, that album is Bachman–Turner Overdrive. It doesn’t grace the turntable as often as some of the other era albums, but it still brings a smile to my face and good memories.
That closes out this definitive time of transition in my life. I travelled extensively, gathered plenty of good experiences and listened to a lot of good music. Many, many good albums didn’t make it to this blog. I didn’t want this to be a long and tedious list; it is a snapshot of me. Me from 1969 to 1973. Happy listening and play safe.
Four out of three music bloggers agree that you can’t go wrong listening to Daryl Hall, Peter Gabriel, Robert Fripp or David Bowie. I agree that all three four of these artists are worth some time on the turntable, and that is what I did today. I started with a purchase of Sacred Songs by Daryl Hall; I didn’t have it in the library. I spent the next 47 minutes getting acquainted with this album. Next up were Peter Gabriel and 42 minutes of reacquainting myself with an album that was in the library and had seen more than a few spins around the spindle. I had listened to Exposure by Fripp recently, so I passed it over and jumped to Heroes by Bowie, which did not materialize from the library, so I had to stream it. A stop in Record Collectors Paradise will hopefully remedy this situation.
Sacred Songs was recorded at The Hit Factory in August 1977 and released in March 1980. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacred_Songs.
Exposure was recorded June 1977–January 1979 and released June 1979
Scratch was recorded November 1977 – February 1978 and released 2 June 1978
See the thread running through all four of these albums? Yes, you are correct, they were all recorded in 1977. The release dates are scattered a bit more, and I will address that as we go along. Originally, Fripp envisioned a simultaneous trilogy of albums comprising Daryl Hall‘s Sacred Songs, Fripp’s solo album Exposure and Peter Gabriel’s second album aka Scratch, both of which Fripp contributed to and produced. I am adding a fourth album that I think deserves to be a part of this trilogy, David Bowie’s album Heroes recorded July–August 1977 and released on 14 October in 1977.
Let’s flesh this out then, shall we? We can start with Daryl Hall and his first solo album Sacred Songs. Hall and Fripp had dissolved their previous musical ventures, Hall & Oates and King Crimson, respectively. While he was writing songs for the album Hall recruited Fripp who was also working on a solo album. Fripp ended up producing Halls album as well as doing guitar work on it. Hall wrote all the songs on Sacred Songs except Urban Landscape. Urban Landscape was a solo written and performed by Fripp featuring a ‘Frippertronics‘ solo), and “NYCNY” for which Fripp wrote the music and Hall the lyrics. “NYNCY” also appeared on Fripp’s album Exposure as “I May Not Have Had Enough of Me, but I’ve Had Enough of You” albeit with different lyrics.
There are a few other names that we should remember, Tony Levin playing bass on “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette”, Jerry Marotta handled the drums on “You Burn Me Up I’m a Cigarette.”and Brian Eno playing synthesizer on “North Star.”
Despite being recorded in August of 1977, the album was not released until March of 1980. The recording company that Daryl Hall worked with was RCA, and they didn’t think Sacred Songs was commercial enough and might turn off the fan base that he had developed through Hall & Oats, so they shelved it. Pissed off at RCA Hall and Fripp gave away tapes of the album to music journalists and disc jockeys who gave it some air time which spurred his fans to start a letter-writing blitz directed at RCA. The album was eventually released in 1980 and went to #58 on the Billboard Pop charts without a hit single.
Meanwhile, Fripp was working on Exposure, his debut solo album, which was recorded in June of 1977 and released in June of 1979. Once again, we see a gap between the recording date and the release date, and once again it was Halls record label that held it up. They wanted him to have equal credit as Fripp due to Hall doing almost all of the vocals and once again RCA feared it would damage his commercial appeal. In the end, Fripp reworked the album and only used Halls vocals on two tracks and used Peter Hammill and Terre Roche for vocals on the remainder of the tracks.
Fripp’s original vision of a trilogy did not work out as intended although all the albums were eventually released. From Exposure the track “Urban Landscape” also appears on the Hall album Sacred Songs, as does “NYCNY”, on Exposure as “I May Not Have Had Enough of Me But I’ve Had Enough of You”, with different lyrics written by Hall. The Gabriel record also features a version of “Exposure”. “Here Comes the Flood” had previously appeared with a prog-rock arrangement on Gabriel’s first album, but Gabriel disliked the production, and created a simpler rendition of the song for Exposure.
Remember those names I told you to take note of, Tony Levin and Brian Eno. Well, they are on Exposure at well, Levin is the master of the bass guitar and Eno contributed synthesizer on several of the tracks. Jerry Marotta does drums on a couple of tracks, and Phil Collins from the band Genesis plays the drums on two tracks. Peter Gabriel who left Genesis in August 1975 to pursue a solo career did vocals and piano on “Here Comes the Flood” as well as voice on “Preface.”
Speaking of Peter Gabriel, the third album in this list is Peter Gabriel’s second album, Scratch, produced by no other than Robert Fripp. Most online music outlets refer to the album as Peter Gabriel 2: Scratch. The name Scratch is a reference to the front album cover designed by Hipgnosis that appears to show Peter Gabriel making scratch marks. Other musicians that contributed to this album are Tony Levin on bass and Jerry Marotta on drums. Fripp played guitar and ‘Frippertronics‘ on the track “Exposure” which is co-written by Peter Gabriel and Fripp and appears on both the Exposure and Scratch albums.
I would venture to add a fourth album to the trilogy, an album that is, in fact, a part of another trilogy. “Heroes” is the 12th studio album by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, released on 14 October 1977 by RCA Records. It was the second instalment of his “Berlin Trilogy” recorded with collaborator Brian Eno and producer Tony Visconti, following Low (released earlier that year) and preceding Lodger (1979). Of the three albums, it was the only one wholly recorded in Berlin. “Heroes” continued the ambient experiments of its predecessor, albeit with more pop elements and passionate performances, and featured contributions from King Crimson guitarist Robert Fripp. Brian Eno contributed synthesisers, keyboards, guitar treatments. Tony Visconti was on percussion, backing vocals, and was the producer.
So, in conclusion, Robert Fripp started with a grand vision of a trilogy of albums. That never really worked out, although we did get three good albums out of the deal. I added a fourth. What comes after a trilogy? Usually a disappointment, there are plenty of good trilogies, but very, very few good fourth parts… 😉
I stole that last sentence from Quora. I hope you enjoyed this musical exploration as much as I did. I listened to a lot of really good music, not just the four primary cuts but the rabbit trails such as the music of the Roche sisters. Take the time to explore and enjoy the music along the way. Happy listening and play safe.
I like country and western music. I like traditional C&W, most of all. I, therefore, like the music of a young man from Saskatchewan by the name of Colter Wall.
Colter Wall hails from Speedy Creek, Sask. and comes good stock, his father was the premier of Saskatchewan from 2007-2018. Colter started his musical journey listening to AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin and learning to play their songs on guitar. A few years later Colter heard Bob Dylan singing “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”, and that song sent him spinning off away from classic rock to classic folk music. He listened to the likes of Woody Guthrie, Dylan’s primary influencer, and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, who was also heavily influenced by Woody Guthrie as well as Dylan himself thus coming full circle.
Colter was also really into the music of Gram Parsons, Townes Van Zandt, George Jones, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Hank Williams. Wow, that would be a mind-bending concert lineup. I also might add that I have featured most of these artists on my turntable recently, which should come as no surprise given my fondness for classic country music. Colter Wall has also been on my iTunes turntable, and I can’t get my hands on his vinyl for various reasons.
Colter sings songs of your typical fodder. Lost loves is a given of course, no matter what genre you sing in, and Colter adds the song, “Kate McCannon”, reminiscent of early folk and bluegrass. He knows how to write a smart catch phrase. A good example is from the song “You Look To Yours” on his eponymous album:
“Two folks in our condition
We’ll never leave this bar room with our pride
So go about your earthly mission
Don’t trust no politicians
You look to yours and I will look to mine”
He gets a little jab in towards his Dad in the middle of a brilliant turn of phrase.
From the same album, Colter throws in a cover song, a tribute to one of his influencers, Townes Van Zandt. The song is “Fraulein” which is a vintage C&W song written by Lawton Williams and initially released in 1957 by Bobby Helms. “Fraulein” is a standard of the genre with cover versions from the likes of Stonewall Jackson, Hank Snow (I’m partial to this one), and Chuck Berry even took a swipe at it and created what I consider a waste of good vinyl.
Fast forward to 2018 and Colter Wall released his sophomore recording “Songs of the Plains”. After being on the road doing shows from the east to the west coast and many stops in between, Colter laments that he is homesick for the wheat fields of southern Saskatchewan.
The second track of this album has a song titled “Saskatchewan 1881”. Be it 1881 or 2018; the sentiment is the same, the “Toronto man” is looking to profit off of the sweat from the brow of the prairie men and women. The song also cautions us not to be “pickin’ fights with no Mennonites”, a sentiment that Corb Lund levelled at another prairie staple, the Hutterites.
“Well it was truck after truck, we all got stuck
‘Cept the big old four by Hutterite truck
We all thought “Lord, are we in luck!”
But he wouldn’t come anywhere near us
Mighty neighbourly, mighty neighbourly”
The songs of Corb Lund and Colter Wall intersect many times which is no surprise what them being two prairie lads. Corb laments the passing of time on the song “We Used To Ride ’em”.
The wind still blows the dust across the exhibition grounds
The chute still creaks and moans and echoes saddle broncin’ sounds
The horses all wound up the same as the ones that came before
But we don’t ride ’em anymore”
I don’t ride ’em anymore either, and I shed a tear because “The Trains Are Gone” and with them the castle spires of the prairies, the elevators that announced what town you were driving through in bright, bold letters on their sides.
“The trains are gone, the trains are gone
Spent like the coal they once rolled on
The rails don’t hum, the ‘bos don’t bunk
No brake-men yodelin’ those rail yard songs”
Railway tracks crisscrossed through my family with uncles that worked the rails for their whole lives and others like myself that only achieved a brief taste of that way of life.
The remainder of Colter Wall’s album “Songs of the Prairies” continues the theme of flat land livin’. Fast forward to 2020 and Colter Wall delivers another suburb album, “Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs”. That is one excellent album title and opens the album with an equally excellent song about just that.
This album also graces us with a couple of cover songs, “Big Iron” by the quintessential cowboy singer, Marty Robbins. Colter Wall doesn’t veer too far away from the original and Colter Wall delivers the lyrics smoothly with his baritone voice. He follows this gunfighter song with a tribute to two names that are eponymous with guns, Henry and Sam, a reference to the 16-shot repeating rifle designed by Benjamin Tyler Henry and Samuel Colt.
A tip of the hat to his mentor, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, follows with the mysterious song “Diamond Joe”. Diamond Joe has quite an interesting back story, and you can read about it here: https://nativeground.com/diamond-joe/
Next up is “High and Mighty” a song that is about as country and nearly as cowboy as you can get, it is about a horse in the rodeo named High N Mighty, owned by the stock contractors Brown and West. High N Mighty was named Bucking Horse of the Year for Canada in 1974 and 1976. Leo Brown, the Brown in Brown and West lived in Czar, Alberta for a spell and I babysat in his home. I still marvel at his trophy room. He also let me use his snowmobile, which was lots of fun. That would have been in about 1971, in 1981 I was riding bare-back in the Northern Alberta Amateur Cowboys Rodeo Association. I did six rides and got bucked off six times. I knew when to quit, and now I just listen to cowboy records and go to the occasional rodeo as a spectator.
Getting back in the record groove after my rabbit trail we have “Talkin’ Prairie Blues”, not to be confused with “Talkin’ Veterinarian Blues”.
One of my favourite songs to play on guitar is “Ghost Riders In the Sky” written by Stan Jones, who also wrote the song “Cowpokes”, that Colter covers here. He then rounds out the roundup with two original songs, “Rocky Mountain Rangers”, which is a bit of Canadian history and “Houlihans at the Holiday Inn”. Throwing Houlihans has a couple of meanings. It could be a method of throwing a lasso, typically in a corral where space is limited. It could also be cowboy slang for raising a little hell, perhaps in the Holiday Inn while on tour.
So there we have an overview of Colter Walls music up to today. I would encourage you to listen to all three of his albums as well as chasing down all the rabbit trails. Ian Tyson, Corb Lund, Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie, Stan Jones, Marty Robbins, Bobby Helms, Stonewall Jackson, Hank Snow, and yes, even Chuck Berry’s version of Fraulein.
All music is good music; there is just some that I like better than others.
I wish happy listening to everyone and play safe.
In the press handout that came with this song and video, there is one fragment of a sentence that jumped at me as I reread it for the umpteenth time searching or a muse.
“Emi Wes has spent the last couple of years … experimenting with different genres to perfect her musical craft. She eventually found the core of her musical foundation; a sound that is completely hers. Entering a new collaboration with renowned producer Robin Hannibal, Emi is ready to kickstart her career with the release of her new single ‘Issues’.”
My ruminating was nothing more than highjacking the above quote, copying and pasting it into this review.
I do come away with my own opinion, of course, and I would be remiss not to inform you, the kindly reader of this review of what that assessment is.
It is haunting. It floats, it rises above the mundane. It moves me and makes me want to dance with it. This song leaves me yearning to hear more by Emi Wes.
She sings; ‘Sensitive as a flower, watch me bloom so eager to learn, I watch it grow.’ The song is a self-love affirmation, as she explains: “Over the years, these have been the lines of my life. It’s really about not being frightened of appearing vulnerable.”
Discussing the song, she tells us: “The instrumental, the strings and Robins chords just gave me the words to a feeling I had in me. I guess it was also important for me to address that I have issues too because we all do. Sometimes saying it loud makes it more okay. For me, it’s a sign of strength being able to say the less pretty out loud.”
The single of ‘Issues’ single is available to stream via No Rules No Limits. No word on an album yet.
You can listen to it here:
Still Corners are taking The Last Exit, but it will not be my last listen to their ethereal haunting music. The Last Exit has taken me on a musical journey with their often hypnotic music. Still Corners travels between bright, sparkling acoustic guitar, the crooning of Tessa, the lead vocalist for Still Corners, and a steady rhythm that keeps the song moving forward. There is a definite feeling of motion in the music that shows up visually in the accompanying video of The Last Exit.
Tessa describes the idea behind the video -“In a world where everyone thinks all the corners of the map are filled in we like to suggest there’s something beyond that, something eternal in the landscape and in our psyche. Maybe you don’t see it every day, but it’s there, and that’s what we are trying to connect to.”
The Last Exit, the fifth studio album for Still corners, will be released on 22nd January 2021 on Wrecking Light Records.
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Once In A Million Years, the new single from Norway’s Misty Coast is energetic, listenable music. It is…I don’t think I can put this in a box for a specific genre. It moves about shift shaping as it goes, and touches on many styles and sounds. The vocals are smooth as well as edgy. The guitars are distorted but not in the heavy metal style that Norway is so famous for having. There are shining acoustic guitar notes and a bass that keeps chugging along. The drums have bright cymbal shots juxtaposed against the beat that holds all the instruments in sync.
Do I like the song? Bottom line, what kind of a review do I give it. I give it five stars, this is a lovely little song, and I hope I get to hear it in a full-length album soon, I don’t want to wait a million years.
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No thanks, I’ll have a coffee, please.
No, no, no. Lemonade is a song that you should give a listen.
It’s a bit cloudy actually, and I prefer staying in hotels.
No, no, no. Sonny Winnebago is the stage name of Welsh-Australian pop troubadour Harvey Jones.
Harvey Jones, remember that name because I think you will hear more from him.
I wish it were summer so we could drink Lemonade.
It is summer in Australia, and good music sounds good anywhere, anytime.
Where can I listen to this bloke’s tunes then?
You can listen to it on SoundCloud, here:
On Spotify here: https://open.spotify.com/album/0uEmdkMwhbmqSsUFoulGIT
And you can discover more about Sonny Winnebago here:
and here: https://twitter.com/sonnywinnebago
Harvey tells us: “Everyone’s got good memories of picking up a recorder or triangle in school, so we used lots of instruments. Davey brought along some shakers; there’s also a ukulele, woodblock, kazoos & a kalimba. My school instrument was the flute, so we put that in too.”
“I was walking to my job as a barista one sunny day in North London and saw some little go-getters selling Lemonade outside their house. I thought that was really cool and reminded me of when I used to make Lemonade from a lemon tree we had in the back garden. Anyway, I had a charity shop acoustic that I kept upstairs at work & I wrote the song on my break that day. Some songs take weeks, months and even years to write, but Lemonade only took a few hours. I think that’s how you know it’s a good tune – just totally uninhibited, like the song was already in me somewhere, or in the air that day! In terms of its lyrics and meaning, there’s not really much to analyze, haha. There’s a nice Gremlins reference in the first verse which makes me happy. In terms of production, with the help of wonderful producer Charlie Francis, and awesome session musicians Davey Newington (Boy Azooga) and Matt Evans (KEYS), we achieved this cool ‘classroom’ sound. Everyone’s got good memories of picking up a recorder or triangle in school, so we put in loads of fun instruments. Davey brought along some shakers, so we used all of them. There’s also a ukulele, woodblock, kazoos & a kalimba that Charlie keeps on his desk for good measure! My school instrument was the flute, so we put that in too! If you listen closely, you can even hear a kitchen sink. Enjoy!
Lemonade is available to stream now, with Phwoar & Peace.
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