Thursday, 23 September 2010

Mushroom 'ed

Mushroom Head, by CAN.

Another song to add to the pile of must-listens: another mind boggling experimental piece that chills to the very bone.

CAN were an experimental rock band from Germany, who, much like any other truly experimental musicial artist, fused a mixture of different musical genres together to create their own sound. In Can's case they created a style of experimental music that drilled fear into the audience, rather effectively.

Mushroomhead comes from the album Tago Mago (1971), which was arguably the band's best album. Originally, Can's vocalist was Malcolm Mooney, but after an unfortunate nervous breakdown there was a vocalist sized gap left in the band. This is where Kenji "Damo" Suzuki's Can career began. The fresh input of Damo on vocals is perhaps what the band needed to create what is Tago Mago.

Often quoted as being one of the most influential albums of the 70s and modern greats, such as Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Johnny Greenwood, have cited it as a major influence on their own music.

The album in its entirety is a master-piece and is well worth a good listen, but I would recommend (after personal experience) not falling asleep to it. Unless you like waking up to high pitched screams...

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

I saw it written...

Nick Drake, in the last couple of decades, has become one of the standing figures of singer-songwriter music. There is no doubt that he has deserved this recent popularity, but one can't help feel that it's rather ironic and almost unfortunate that it came after his life ended. Especially as Nick Drake's desire for popularity drove him to depression, whilst his masterpieces fell on deaf ears.

It was the lack of subscription to the music of Drake that can perhaps be blamed for his unfortunate and untimely death: not directly, but if it wasn't for the desire to be heard, Drake's life may have been different.

As for his fame now, it has mainly stemmed from a clause in Drake's contract with Island records (thanks to his manager Joe Boyd) to ensure that his music never went out of print. Furthermore, although Drake's music wasn't a mainstream success, artists such as Robert Smith named Drake as an influence. In addition to new mainstream artists using Drake's name, popularising his music, several biographies and documentaries, beginning in 1997, were released on the life of Nick Drake. However, the main boost for Drake's music was the Volkswagen advert in 2000, which used the song "Pink Moon".

As a result of the advert, Drake's albums sold more in the month after the Advert first aired, than in the previous 30 years.

Pink Moon was the name of Nick Drake's third album and it was Drake's final released effort to be heard, whilst he was alive.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Blowin' your mind...

If you're into songs filled with emotion then the next video will be to your liking. The blues influenced song by Van Morrison has to be one of the most emotional songs ever written and in the studio version of the song, it is clear how much feeling Van put into the recording.

In fact, in the liner notes of the album "T.B sheets" (1973), it is stated that after the recording of the song the rest of the session had to be cancelled, because Van broke down into tears.

The story of the song is of a young girl in hospital dying from tuberculosis and the storyteller, feeling guilt over the young girl's situation, wants to escape the hospital room and its smell of death and disease.

The way Van Morrison's voice, full of emotion, cries over the top of the blues co-ordination of guitar and the harsh sounds of the harmonica, it is impossible not to feel the song's overflowing emotion. It is definitely one of the best written songs of all time.

T.B Sheets can be found on Van's album "Blowin Your Mind" (1967).

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Safe As Milk...

After jumping to the 90s we now skip back to the 60s and to Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. Known for his wide- ranging vocal style, Beefheart has received a cult following in recent years, but originally the music of Beefheart was considered by most critics as an acquired taste. This is certainly reflected in the lack of mainstream accolades to Don Van Vliet's name. Nonetheless, He has been considered as one of the main influences for such genres as punk, as well as many other rock-based sounds within music.

During Captain Beefheart's musical career 12 studio albums were released between the 60s and 80s, which included some of my personal favourites: "Trout Mask Replica" and "Safe as Milk". Captain Beefheart's albums are unlike many other artist's upon listening, which makes him a truly innovative part of alternative music history.

Beefheart's music, whilst mainly blues driven, contains elements of various music genres such as,rock, psychedelia and jazz to name but a few. The music is very experimental and may remind some of a certain Frank Zappa, who was unsurprisingly a close friend of Don's.

So, today's song is from the 1967 album, "Safe as Milk" and is titled "Zig Zag Wanderer". The song has a very heavy blues based riff with a touch of the 60s pop and the overbearing yet enjoyable vocals of Don Van Vliet.

The Real Shady.

For the next song we jump forward to the nineties to a band named Shady (not Marshall Mathers) who formed after David Baker, former front man of Mercury Rev, left. The song I have chosen is taken from the 1994 album "World", titled "Narcotic Candy" and yes, it is sweet.

David Baker is another controversial front man that has fallen from the tree of inspiration, but hit a few too many branches on the way down leading to a quick and unfortunate demise. It was due to Baker's behaviour in and out of the band that he was eventually forced to leave Mercury Rev, which left Jonathan Donahue (spent time with the Flaming Lips also) to take over vocals for Mercury Rev. In my opinion, Mercury Rev had one decent album post-Baker, "See you on the otherside", but soon became a totally different band, and much for the worse because of it. It is here that I draw a comparison between Pink Floyd and Mercury Rev: The music was better when the wild front men were at the helm: Syd and Dave Respectively.

Luckily for fans of Baker's 'Rev, the man produced this new band under the name of Shady. Shady was Baker's nickname that derived from an earlier name of the band Mercury Rev: Shady Crady. For fans of early Mercury Rev "World" is a must listen to, because the album has so many wonderful tracks that are true to the Baker influenced songs of Mercury Rev that are heard on both "Yerself is steam" and "Boces".

Friday, 25 June 2010

Time of the era

Sorry for the recent lack of posts, but there has been a small matter of a certain football tournament that has taken my attention. I have, however, managed to sit down and get this post sorted.

Okay, now if you have ever seen a Vietnam war film then you are most likely to have heard this song from one of those. The 60s Brit band, The Zombies, formed in 1959 and were big hits in the USA with their tracks "She's not there", "Tell her no" and the song I am posting today "Time of the Season."

Unfortunately for the British band, Time of the season did not chart in their home nation, but it was surprisingly popular in the USA, charting at number 3 in 1969. One can only be surprised as to how this particular song did not do as well in Britain, but it has certainly been remembered in retrospect as a song to define the era it came from.

As soon as I hear this hit I instantly think of the sixties and especially the Vietnam War, which is why I think the title is so eerily effective: the sixties were all about music. The song's make up is pure sixties: from the vocals to the organ; everything about the song oozes that time.

The band have not been remembered as one of the defining bands of the era, but they were an important band of the sixties. The Zombies' album "Odessey and Oracle" was voted within the top 100 of Rolling Stone magazine's top 500, and has to be listened by anyone who believes themself to be a 60s music fan.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Creation of Making time for recognition

Okay, after posting several great live performances, I now feel the need to return to posting just great songs in general, again. I have, therefore, turned to a band of the original british invasion of the 60s. This video is of The Creation's 'Making time'.
The Creation were a grittier version of the Who. Imagine if vinyl records could reproduce like humans and The Who's 'My generation' were to have a one night stand with the Kink's 'You really got me' and then you would have the Creation's 'Making time'; a true mod classic that definitely deserves more recognition alongside other greats, such as the Who and the Kinks.

This is the band live in Germany in 1966.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Play as 'terribly loud' as you like...

The next video is of the biggest band to have ever come out of my home town, Cambridge: Pink Floyd. Syd Barrett was the front man at the time, when Pink Floyd were in their early stages. Syd appeared to be unaffected by the rock and roll lifestyle at this stage and, more importantly, he seemed to be clean from the copious amounts of LSD. His eyes show a personality full of life, which is a pleasant contrast to the famous images of Syd looking listless and an onlooker on his own life.
However, What I like in particular about this video, aside from the mind- blowing performance, is the presenter's reaction to the band; Quite a distinct reaction of distaste for a band that became one of the biggest in the world.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Don't Let Me Down, from the roof.

Another famous live performance everyone should see is that of the Beatles on top of the Apple building in 1970; their last public performance. The set that the Beatles played was filmed for the film/documentary that they released, 'let it be', and it was a perfect end to a magnificent band.
During the performance the nearby streets of London came to a standstill, in awe (or annoyance) of the Beatle's performance. The streets of London had to endure just over 40 minutes of disruption, which was put to an end by the Police when they ordered the band to stop.
Soon after the performance (30 January 1969)relations within the band began to collapse and almost a year later the band split. The biggest band of all time came to an end after a marvellous showcase performance.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

My Generation would never do that.

The next performance is by a band I mentioned in the last post, The Who. Another band, like the Hendrix Experience, who like to smash things as part of their act. Hendrix and the Who were the forerunners in this activity of smashing everything in sight during a set and that is why they are remembered, as well as being great songwriters, as great artists.
This particular performance of the Who's was in 1967 on the 'Smothers Brother Comedy Hour', an American broadcast. The performance was like any other performance, right until the end when, in true Who fashion, they began to destroy their instruments. You may read this and think 'that's what they always do?' And you'd be correct, but add a cheeky Keith Moon with too many explosives contained within his drums and you get an interesting result. I'm sure the now almost fully deaf Pete Townshend would agree.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

This sex is definitely on fire.

This has to be THE best live performance and probably the most famous, too. If you're expecting The Kings Of Leon, I apologise, but this is certainly a performance far more entertaining than those whinging bastards could ever muster.
The performance I have selected today is of Jimi Hendrix at the Monterey Pop Festival of 1967. Wild Thing was the last song to end Hendrix's magnificent set, which should be witnessed by everyone as an example of how to perform a live show.
The show was opened by The Who, as a result of a coinflip between them and Hendrix (as neither wanted to precede the other)and the Who had wanted to end their show in a fashion that would force no one to forget. Unfortunately, the band's antics were nothing compared to those of the wild cat of Seattle.
Hendrix's performance during Wild Thing saw him play his right handed, but strung left handed, Strat behind his back; with his elbows; between his legs; whilst making love to it (if you watch you'll understand) and of course, the ultimate symbolic image of Hendrix, setting the guitar alight and smashing it beyond recognition.
Hendrix's performance of Wild Thing was an audacious performance that shocked the music world and changed the way live shows were performed from then on. In my opinion, Jimi Hendrix was the greatest live performer of all time and deserves his status as the greatest guitarist of all time.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Hell's Angels give Sympathy for the Devil

The next live performance I have chosen is Sympathy for the Devil by the Rolling Stones. This performance is taken from the Stones' show at Altamont in 1969, where the concert security were none other than Hell's Angels. Yes. Big scary men, who like fights and hate hippies.
The reason for hiring the Angels has never been clarified, but what is sure is the amount of trouble that went down at the now infamous festival. There was at least one murder at the festival, during the Rolling Stones' set and it was caught on camera.
The Grateful Dead were also supposed to appear at the festival that the Stones organised, but pulled out after there had been several cases of violence at Altamont. The Dead also advised against the use of Hell's Angels as security, but the Stones' management went ahead and used them anyway. The worst decision ever.
This performance isn't one the Stones will wish to remember, but it does show how live shows were a lot different to today.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Live Life Live.

Today's a very sunny day and I am stuck inside at the moment, waiting to go for lunch with some friends; being inside sweating, whilst not exercising, gave me the inspiration to think of a theme for the next few videos that I will post. So, When was I ever as sweaty as this from doing something that didn't involve exercise (or sex)? It was When I went to see Pearl Jam live.

Therefore, the next few videos will be of live performances from various artists, who fall under the category of 'fucking amazing', or something similar, in live performances. The first live performace will have to belong to Pearl Jam, as I have already mentioned them and they are more than suitable.

Pearl Jam were arguably the greatest live band of the nineties and, to some extent, the greatest band of that era, too. During the early years of the 90s and the Seattle 'grunge' scene, Pearl Jam were thought to have brought grunge to the mainstream, because they received critical acclaim and sold a lot of records. However, many criticised Pearl Jam for 'jumping on the bandwagon' of the grunge scene, with criticism coming famously from Kurt Cobain. In brutal honesty, Pearl Jam were the better band and their logevity is, perhaps, a sign of that. However, the Music Media has chosen Nirvana as the symbol of 90s grunge, which is perhaps fair, considering Pearl Jam, although they were a Seattle band had a different sound to Nirvana.

Before Cobain's death in 1994 Pearl Jam were the dominant band in the gunge scene, with their 2nd album VS (5 against 1) hitting number 1 in the US billboards and breaking several records on the way. Pearl Jam were the MTV band of the early 90s, which is why the live performance I have chosen is from the MTV awards of 1993; possibly the best Pearl Jam performace. There is an edginess and clear passion to the performance, which doesn't get seen in live performances from bands of today.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

I'd rather chase a bee inside a jar than go out in Uxbridge sober.

I am sitting up at gone 2am drinking a can of cider (which is disgusting)that my friend gave me (as a result of me lending him £30) and I am feeling a bit apathetic about absolutely everything. I have, therefore, chosen this next song because it carries nothing in relation to anything. So precisely how I feel. Like chasing a bee inside a jar.

Mercury Rev were, in my opinion, one of the finest bands of the nineties; their first three albums were masterpieces in psychedelic mixed up fuckedness- my favourite genre. I find it difficult to understand why they were not as popular with a generation of grunge kids looking for new, far-reaching music when David Baker was in the band, yet when he left and the songs became as boring as a night out in Uxbridge sober, the band's popularity rose. That probably says more about me than it does the taste of the majority of people.

Friday, 14 May 2010

The Cutter

Now I realise that it has been quite a while since I last updated my blog, but I have now finished my exams and my University life in all. A little happiness may have crept upon me. Anyway, that kind of stuff belongs in another blog.

Today's song I have been thinking about since last Friday, when I heard it in one of the scenes in Ashes to Ashes. The song I have chosen for today is Echo and the Bunnymen's The Cutter.

The song appealed to me, surprisingly. There's something almost Television-esque about them- maybe Joy Division? Also, the song reminds me of how we are now in for a Tory dominated 5 years. 'Spare us the Cutter' seems so relevant. Anyway, I had never listened to them before Friday and now I have even listened to more songs; I would have to say they were maybe a one hit wonder.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Hey Jimi...

Now, it doesn't get much better than forever young James Marshall Hendrix. The best guitarist this world has ever seen and from recent evidence, the best we will ever see. From 3 albums, Jimi produced an array of beautiful music, which vary album to album. It is quite likely that there'll be a lot of Hendrix on this blog and choosing the first one to put up was difficult, but I felt I had to go for the one that struck Jimi to fame in 1966.

The song is Tim Rose cover, but is probably better known for Jimi's take on it.
Absolute classic. This video of Hey Joe also has a great performance of sunshine of your love.

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

My cups over- filled.

I can't help but think of this next song when I become hungry. This is one of my favourite songs of the early 90s music scene. Hunger Strike was a song written for Andrew Wood, who was the lead singer of the Band Mother Love Bone, who Jeff Ament (Bassist of TOTD and now Pearl Jam) and Stone Gossard (Guitarist of TOTD and now Pearl Jam)were members of. Andrew Wood died, of what I believe to have been a heroin overdose, although I am sure Wikipedia has some kind of accurate cause of death. TOTD also consisted of Chris Cornell, of Soundgarden and Audioslave, and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam on vocals. Vedder was only on a few songs providing mostly back up vocals for TOTD with Cornell taking the main stage for the band. On drums was Matt Cameron of Soundgarden, but now drummer of Pearl Jam and Mike McCready on lead guitar (Pearl Jam). The band really was a fusion of the two Seattle based bands (known as the broadly used genre label 'grunge') and, for me, were the beginnings of the rise of grunge hitting the mainstream of MTV.


I woke up this morning and I had a feeling (not a blues feeling I'm afraid, although maybe soon)of wonder; what would living in the 70s be like? I haven't a clue why I felt like that- maybe it has something to do with all the music from that era that I listen to. Anyway, today's song is a 70s classic.
Ride A White Swan was T. Rex's first major hit in 1970 and it has been said by some people to have started the glam rock sensation of the 70s.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

John, May You Never Be Forgotten.

The recently departed John Martyn is my favourite singer/songwriter type artists; someone who sits with a guitar and sings, with maybe a few added extras. John Martyn is one of those artists that you can just listen to at anytime and May You Never is a prime example of this. John Martyn lived quite an interesting life; involving drugs, being shot and having his leg amputated. Beside all of this, the big man continued touring up until his untimely death of last year.
If you find yourself a fan of someone who sits with a guitar and sings, then John is your man. He has one of the greatest voices in music, as well as being one of the greatest guitar players in his field.

John Martyn, may you rest in peace and May You Never be forgotten.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Rubin Carter

Bob Dylan- possibly the greatest song writer of all time. The song I have chosen today is arguably his best song and maybe even the best song ever written. I am personally undecided on what is the best song in the world, but this definitely up there amongst the greats. The song is taken from Dylan's album Desire and is written about the acts of racism against Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, who imprisoned without, according to some, a fair trial. The song itself caused a lot of problems for Dylan in the form of lawsuits. In fact, the song even had to be re-recorded, due to some offensives within the lyrics, but even the modified version caused outrage. All in all, the song remains one of the greatest songs ever written.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

TV is for Tom Verlaine.

Okay this next song, in my opinion, deserves a lot more recognition than it has. The song is a timeless classic and it just doesn't get old. The song is on Television's album of the same name and it is pure brilliance. I don't think music gets more epic and chilling than this song: I think everyone should have listened to this song at least once in their lifetime.
The album was released in 1977, but never got the acclaim that it truly deserved (apart from in New York where they began). The album was, however, re-released in 2003 and has ever since been regarded very highly in album charts. NME rated it as no. 4 album ever and Rolling Stone Magazine put it at 128.
The album was, arguably, the beginnings of post-rock. Tom Verlaine deserves to be recognised as a great front man with this amazing song and the album as a whole.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

From me to you.

Okay, so this song goes back to 1963 and the reason I have put it up is because it was the Beatles first number one in the Uk (although it was their 2nd in other charts). The song hit number one in May of that year and was the startings of something special for the biggest band to have graced the planet.
This song is the definition of 2 minute pop song. Classic.

Friday, 23 April 2010

This will be my first entry of this blog that I have titled 'A Bonafide Safe High...' I intend to post songs that I deem important, or just plain good. The songs will mainly be classics that have either deserved their fame, or ones that have been long forgotten, or over-shadowed. The First song, however, is not overshadowed in the slightest and is not forgotten. It is a song to celebrate England on St. George's Day, as well as prepare us for the World Cup.