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Sunday, 24 March 2013

Incredibly Drunk Post

OK, you would not believe the night I've had tonight. The kind of legendary night that you look back on and go 'god damn' in your old age I imagine.

Nevertheless, all kinds of respectable people can read this blog, so I'm not going to shared the exciting events with you. What I will do is tell you a secret that someone should have told you a long time ago.

The secret is John Marytn. Everyone's addicted to it, its all the rage, from people in high places to the lowest junkies in the street there's a secret club of people all massively dependant on the music of John Martyn.

If you've not heard of this gentleman, crack out spotify, or iTunes or whatever, and get yourself a copy of 'Solid Air' to listen to. Beware though, John Martyn is not gateway music, you can't give him up. Once you become dependant your stuck.

When I first heard this record, I thought it had been newly recorded by a modern artist, which is why it was so obscure. The first thing I thought was 'that has to have been recorded to tape - it sounds so GOOD!'. Of course it turned out it was, in 1973 there wasn't another option. Still, talk about pristine perfect production, brilliant musicianship and stunning atmosphere.

The album's title track 'Solid Air' is dedicated to Nick Drake, the folk songwriter, famous as the Van Gough of 60's music (suicidal before his post-humous success). OK, thats a bit unfair, while your at it check out Nick Drake's Pink Moon, and work out why Jeff Buckly and Damien Rice and all those pretenders can't write for shit. Anyway, Solid Air would be a track worthy of massive decontruction if it wasn't the comparatively lamest track on an album of ridiculously awesome music. This isn't ahead of its time, it just hasn't been matched yet. Its too bloody perfect. It messes with your head.

Anyway, track two, mandolin folk, would be boring would it not be for the inexplicably catchy seemingly perfect composition. It may even seem normal first time round, but stick with it.

Track three is when it starts to get MASSIVELY interesting. Rather be the Devil. This dirty Skip James blues number is raw sexuallity, dereft of morals and incredibly exciting - ending with some strange jazz improv section which a jazzer would interpret better than myself. All I can say is listen, you'll get what I mean.

Track four is when  the brilliant sex music starts. I don't know if this is why I connect with Mr Martyn, but the raw sensitivity and gentle sexuality of his music I can really relate to. Is this track about oral sex? I'm not really sure what 'Go Down Easy' meant in 1973, but I know what it means today and its sexy as hell.

track five, Dreams by the Sea. After rather be the the devil, John's hinted he can rock it up. Here he does. Wurlitzer piano, my favourite,with sex wah wah and some incredible drums and bass. Eat your heart out Jim Morrison, here is the even realer deal.

May You Never. Well, well, well/. Covered and destroyed by Eric Clapton, this original is the ultimate love song. Strong, delicate, clever, but so so loving. I'm sick of trying to play an even half good cover of this song. Again guitar playing so good it makes you feel slightly sick inside. In a good way.

The man in the station - I felt this kind of cold, having my lovely wool coat pinched tonight. yes, it was cold, luckily we got a taxi home. Anyway, listen you'll relate.

The Easy Blues is dedicated to Jelly Roll Morton the incredible blues pianist. If Del Davison, as he tells me, can't find an accurate tab to this song, I wonder if anyone apart from John knows how to play this tune. It's like an instruction manual for good guitar.

My copy ends with a live version of 'Rather Be The Devil' which I think packs more clout than the studio version. I would have loved to see him in his prime.

I've always kinds of thought there's a degree of idolatry for Eric Clapton and even Jimi Hendrix that is a tiny bit just hero worship, and nothing to do with music. There's no bull with John, nobody's gonna tell you he's the greatest guitarist of all time, but listen and - yeh, I'm wondering too....

Friday, 22 March 2013

Midnight High - E.P. Review

I'm gonna keep reviewing these releases as they come out, not because I think anyone values my opinion, but because I don't want them to disappear into the ether, especially not this one.

When Rob first started the Long Haired Music label, I went to the lengths of calling Rob in the street and putting him on the phone to Jace saying 'These are the guys you NEED to record'. Months later, the record came out, literally days after the band broke up. Pretty bad timing, but it was a brilliant swan song.

If you don't know the band get them up on iTunes preview now. You need to hear this.

The E.P. opens up with the rock solid drums groove of 'You Said'. Straight in with massive guitar riff and a chorus of three part harmonies. Classic MH, though it isn't really until the second track however that you really see what the band are about.

'Home' is quite simply brilliant. Lyrically, tonally, emotionally, this is the record that justifies the whole existence of the band. Even if we're not going to see one of those spectacular live shows again, at least we can play this track and remember everything that the band was about. The song grows, evolves and develops taking us through about seven different themes and sections and embodies the hopelessness and disparity of a collapsing band. Perhaps.

Straight from that into fast guitar licks and razor sharp lyrics for 'Fall on the Floor'. It goes back to the tasty outlaw appeal of their previous release, but with the production quality to make it very crank-able. I'm glad this song's on the release because it heralds back to a point where the band were more motivated and less nihilistic. Or maybe that's just my psyche re-writing history.

'So Far' feels like Home's little sister. Fear of age and lack of destination seem to run through both songs. The lyrics speak for themselves - witty, intelligent, cutting. The first rate musicianship is a theme running through the record.

The final track, 'Spanish Eyes', tonally is incredibly strong. It returns back to the ballsy outlandish stick-it-to-the-man-ism that gives the band their appeal. I think it will disappoint some fans to hear the band slowed down and deflated slightly in this respect for the deeper, but far stronger numbers on this release, but they're brought back up with this finale. Lovely touches like the three part 'Fucking Around' harmony, and the 'trap of nickels and dimes' which is something I can relate to a hell of a lot.

The only thing that makes this E.P. massively disappointing is that it ends so soon. I know the band has more songs, and their first E.P. had equally brilliant tunes on it,.and allegedly you can mix the two up to make a great album.

I think a lot of people seriously mourn the loss of this band. Jesus, I do. I'm told by Jace that they're working  on a new project that sounds too different to be Midnight High, and I hope this to be true. Still, I feel like they killed something beautiful. It was like witnessing a meltdown when they bailed on their tour commitments and became impossible to contact.

Maybe MH have grown up. Maybe being the outlaws that said 'fuck you' to everyone just got tiring and alienating. I get the impression that maybe they said 'fuck you' to the people trying to help them. I think though in the world we live in we need someone to carry the flag of 'fuck you' and say the things we don't have the balls to say. To find the roads to explain the emptiness we feel with our five figure salaries and loving partners (lol - like I have a five figure salary!), to go out and get high and drink and screw and travel on our behalf, so that we know that in this flat-pack Ikea safety-goggled world there's still some adventure to be had. Well, these guys have done their turn. If you want the party to go on, you're going to have to get up off your computer, find guitar, some whiskey & a dealer and start fucking your own shit up. Take up the mantle, we'll be waiting.

'I'm a free spirit, you're never gonna trap me'
Midnight High
2010 - 2013

Thursday, 21 March 2013

What's going on? Absolutely Everything.

It's hard to know what to show you tbh, as so much is happening - where do we start?

Lincoln is buzzing with music. Long Haired Music had a lavish launch party - thrown by me! video footage is on youtube, type in long haired music launch. Today I tracked a record with Helen Francis, so she'll have some more vids up soon, all on the xclamation music channel so keep watching there! I love how dedicated and determined Lincoln's musicians are, they make my work worth doing.

The Breakfast Club are going from strength to strength - our third album is tracked and awaiting mixing. It sounds amazing. We keep gigging all over, getting re-bookings (to my amazement!) and it seems like everyone wants a piece of us.

The other day in Northampton two complete strangers started writing our set-list for us - with our songs! They turned out to be incredibly sound and 'Strawberries' is now their song. due to an on-stage whim of Brow. It felt strange but good that people we don't know are getting into our music and coming to see us :-)

As for my solo stuff that epic E.P. is going to be coming out VERY soon. I'm writing more and more and an album is also in the pipeline. A while ago I promised more video - check this out!

That's from my album launch last January. Finally done.

If you'd like more from the BC, check out this clip of us rehearsing our new album :-)

More info to come I promise! no more blogging gaps for me :-) I'm getting some some new equipment in april that will make me sound better and let me record live concerts! I literally can't wait...

cya soon you lovely people!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Lizzy Sawyer - E.P. Review

OK, never posted a review before, but I'm listening in the middle of the night and this is something you HAVE TO HEAR!

Lizzy Sawyer's E.P. is probably the most beautiful record I've heard in the last year. These songs really are incredible - the writing is impassioned and honest. These are live performances and they really breath, right down to the tape hiss barely audible in the background this record is seriously perfect. I'm just gutted there's only four of these songs - I demand more! :-)

Recorded on a 1964 Scully tape machine, completely live as a one day project, I lent Lizzy my one roll of tape, which meant we could only capture four of her beautiful songs, a fifth narrowly escaping the final release. Rob Harrison has made the Long Haired Music project worthwhile with this record alone.

Anyway, buy it, love it. Plug in your headphones and listen on your own. Lizzy will creep inside you and rattle your demons x