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".