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Sunday, 19 February 2017

Windy City - Alison Krauss (17th February 2017)

Windy City - Alison Krauss
Capitol Records
Produced by Buddy Cannon
Released 17th February 2017

A1 Losing You    
A2 It's Goodbye And So Long To You    
A3 Windy City    
A4 I Never Cared For You    
A5 River In The Rain    
B1 Dream Of Me    
B2 Gentle On My Mind    
B3 All Alone Am I    
B4 Poison Love    
B5 You Don't Know Me

Bonus Tracks on Deluxe and on Download Card with the Vinyl Edition
11 Windy City (Live)    
12 River In The Rain (Live)    
13 Losing You (Live)*    
14 I Never Cared For You (Live)

*Included on the Playlist above 

Before someone says, "Mr Watson, you are a man of great musical contradiction!" let me say that if there is one thing I have come to learn down through my many years of enjoying music is that it is way better to approach music with an open mind rather than a narrow focus. Maybe it upsets some that on this blog that there is such a diversity of sound but I really feel no need to make apologies for that. There is music that appeals to me for all sorts of moods and situations and then there is the absolute joy of just hearing a voice so beautiful that you cannot pass by easily and just have to give some moments to allow the sound to wash over your soul.

That's exactly how I come to the voice and sound of Alison Krauss! There is such a smoothness and beauty to her vocal that it just stops me in my tracks and forces me to down tools and just listen in absolute wonder.

Windy City is the first album for her new label Capitol Records after years of being on Rounder Records. It is also the first Solo outing since Forget About It (1999) and a decade since her outstanding collaboration with Robert Plant on Raising Sand (2007) and the first new project since Paper Airplane with her long time band Union Station in 2011.

All the songs are cover versions. Here are the original versions of the songs:

A1 Losing You - Brenda Lee    
A2 It's Goodbye And So Long To You - The Osborne Brothers with MacWiseman   
A3 Windy City - The Osborne Brothers   
A4 I Never Cared For You - Willie Nelson   
A5 River In The Rain - Roger Miller    
B1 Dream Of Me - Vern Gosdin   
B2 Gentle On My Mind - Glen Campbell    
B3 All Alone Am I - Brenda Lee   
B4 Poison Love - Bill Monroe  
B5 You Don't Know Me - Eddy Arnold 

As is usual with Alison Krauss there is a carefulness in choosing the right song and she really does have an ear for a good one and also the ability to make it so fresh that you would never guess (if you didn't know the original) that it was actually an old song she was singing, such is the beautiful stamp she seems to place on every song she touches.

This seems like one of those albums that just seems suited to a Sunday morning. From start to finish it's wonderfully put together with some absolutely gorgeous moments musically. Members of Union Station, including banjo player Ron Block and bassist Barry Bales, play alongside Nashville country-rock legends like guitarist Richard Bennett and drummer Chad Cromwell. Krauss, who finds her peace in the perfect vocal blend, invited an all-star cast to harmonize with her on these tracks: honky-tonk heroes Hank Williams Jr., and Jamey Johnson, bluegrass standard-bearers Sidney & Suzanne Cox, her longtime collaborator Dan Tyminski, Cannon's daughter Melonie. "The feel of these tracks is highly professional but loose: pros romping through their repertoire, with Krauss making each song charmingly personal" (Ann Powers - NPR: Check out Ann Powers' piece on Alison and the interview over at NPR).

Saturday, 18 February 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: Ramones Release New Singles In UK and US

 You Tube seem to have blocked the audio for this track for the album/single version so as an alternative here's a live version from April 1977 at My Father's Place in NYC


Sire Records
Released 18th February 1977 (UK)
Did Not Chart

Sire Records
Released 18th February 1977 US
Did Not Chart
I have no idea who was responsible for choosing some of the early Ramones singles but they clearly got it all wrong at times!

On this day in 1977 on both sides of the pond Sire Records released two different new Ramones singles. In the UK it was I Remember You - whilst a good song I reckon they could have chosen Suzy Is A Headbanger as the A-Side as it showed the band's wonderful quirky nature off so much better!

In the US they chose Swallow My Pride (which would get a British release in July with an additional track of Let's Dance recorded at The Roxy in LA). Again not a great choice I think. Glad To See You Go or Now I Wanna Be A Good Boy would have made great singles! The B-side is one of their most loved songs Pinhead (even that would have made a great A-Side).

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: Damned Damned Damned - The Damned

(because 5 is not enough!)

  Damned Damned Damned - The Damned
Stiff Records
Produced by Nick Lowe
Released 18th February 1977
UK Chart #36

Notes on Damned Damned Damned

First pressing of this album ( about 2000 copies) were mispressed with Eddie and the Hot Rods on the rear sleeve. With stiff erratum sticker. 

This no doubt was a cheeky marketing ploy on behalf of Stiff Records who had earlier in the month signed a distribution deal with Island Records for whom Eddie and The Hot Rods were also signed to!  

A few came shrinkwrapped with red "DAMNED DAMNED" lettering on the shrink wrap, which lined up below the printed word DAMNED on the cover, to make the 3-word name of the album. Intact copies of these appear to be worth approx 3 times as much.



Singles On Damned Damned Damned

A-Side: New Rose
B-Side: Help

 Stiff Records
Released 22nd October 1976
UK Chart #81

Stiff Records
BUY 10
Released 18th February 1977


(Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and Brian James)

If you wanted nice and pretty music in February 1977 you would not have to go to far to search it out because sitting at the top of the charts for three weeks was Leo Sayer

If you wanted to throw some cosmic disturbance into your world and upset your neighbour's you wouldn't have to go too far either, a trip to your local record store, to purchase a copy of the very first UK Punk Rock Album!...not by the Sex Pistols (they were still trying to find a label) or The Clash (who were actually busy recording their Debut at this stage of the game)...but rather by an unlikely bunch of oiks called The Damned.

You couldn't get anyone like them on the cover of the pop magazines, after all they weren't all cute and cuddly like Leo Sayer or David Soul! Lead vocalist Dave Vanian ( a former gravedigger) looked like he had just stepped off the set of a Hammer House of Horror production playing the lead vampire, guitarist Brian James looked like the crazed rock star he was, Captain Sensible on bass guitar was anything but sensible often turning up on stage wearing a tutu, a nurses outfit and reports (unfounded I hasten to add!) that sometimes he was totally naked! On the drums was a fella with a charming name that you would be scared to introduce to your Grandma incase she had a sudden fainting fit at hearing, "and Gran, this is Rat Scabies!"

Ten days of recording and the end result produced by Nick Lowe is a work of epic proportions! There was absolutely nothing like it (though maybe Raw Power by Iggy & The Stooges was the closest thing to being like it!)!

It was fast, furious and Scabies sounded more like he was physically assualting the drumkit rather than actually playing it! Dark and sinister songs like Born To Kill, Stab Your Back, Feel The Pain were surrounded by songs that would become legendary like Neat Neat Neat, New Rose, and the brilliant tip of the hat to Iggy & The Stooges with a blistering cover of 1970 (renamed here as I Feel Alright). 1 of the 2 is one of my favourites on the album.

This was not safe music by any means, it was dangerous, violent and yet totally captivating and very exciting! For enthusiasm, I have to say that when compared to The Clash or the Pistols Debut albums Damned Damned Damned wins everytime! Those two debuts whilst good in their own right really didn't have this same kind of nervous energy that was unleashed on this day in February 1977.

The day of release was also the 22nd Birthday of Brian James, so we'd like to wish him a very happy 62nd Birthday today!

I have previously written about this album in a couple of other places on the blog, you can check out those pieces by clicking on the links below

The Best Debut Albums - from the Series S4L Presents: The Best Debut Albums 2015.
The First UK Punk Album - from the series Let The Day Begin...Let The Day Start in 2016.

Friday, 17 February 2017

40 Years of Punk & New Wave 1977: (I'm) Stranded - The Saints


(I'm) Stranded - The Saints
Harvest Records
Produced by Mark Moffat and Rod Coe
Released February 1977

Side 1

Side 2

Singles on (I'm) Stranded

(I'm) Stranded / No Time
Fatal Records*
September 1976

*Fatal Records was a label the band set up in order to release their debut single. EMI Australia reissued the single and in the UK in 1977 it was issued on Power Exchange Records and Tapes.
It was also issued as a Double A-Sided Split EP
 New Wave EP

A-Side: (I'm) Stranded / No Time - The Saints
A-Side: S'Cool Days / On A Line - Stanley Frank
Power Exchange Records
12th August 1977

(Italian Picture Cover)

8th April 1977

One Two Three Four EP
September 1977

By the release of the EP there had been a change in line up with the addition of Algy Ward on Bass after the departure of Kym Bradshaw.

This Perfect Day single which was released in July 1977 was included on the 2007 CD Release among the bonus tracks and a re-recorded version of the song appeared on their Second Album Eternally Yours.

Produced by Ed Kuepper and Chris Bailey
Released 1st July 1977
UK Chart #34

If you thought for a moment that Punk Rock was just something that was done by the Brits and the Americans, then think again. It was finding its feet in parts of Europe and of all the strangest places on earth, Brisbane, Australia!
The Saints had formed in 1974 but by 1975 they were already playing in a style that would be considered to be "punk rock".
Their debut single (I'm) Stranded was released on their own label Fatal due to the fact that no labels showed any interest in them. Copies were sent to radio stations and magazines in Australia and the UK with one landing on the desk of John Peel. He aired it for the first time on the 29th September 1976 on his show that featured by the way 9 songs from Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key of Life album - four from Side 1 and the complete Side 2!
This must have been the way they came to the attention of EMI in London who promptly informed their Australian Office to sign the band to a three album deal!
Sounds magazine's reviewer, Jonh Ingham, declared it, "Single of this and every week".

(I'm) Stranded got a UK release on the Power Exhange Records and Tapes label, which was quite bizzare as the label had been on the go for a few years specialised in releasing Black music, particularly Soul Music (they had released the likes of the O' Jays, J.J. BarrieThe Imperials etc as well as some "novelty" singles).
The album was recorded over the course of two days in December 1976 and  the band relocated to Sydney in early 1977. By May 1977 they had found their way to the UK where they were already butting heads with their label who wanted to promote them as an all out Spikey haired, Torn clothing Punk Band, The Saints meanwhile were dead set against that wishing to maintain a more downbeat image!
For an album and single that didn't do too well it is surprising the impact they have had, particularly in their homeland. In May 2001, Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) celebrated its 75th anniversary and named "(I'm) Stranded" in its Top 30 Australian songs of all time. In 2007, "I'm Stranded" was one of the first 20 songs stored on the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia registry. Their debut album was listed at #20 in the book 100 Best Australian Albums in October 2010.
If you like your rock and roll to be rough and ready and scuzzy then this album is a winner for you! 

A couple of years ago there was a bit of a new interest in The Saints after Bruce Springsteen had recorded one of their songs (Just Like Fire Would) for his High Hopes album. It was a song that that he played live when touring in Australia in 2013 in the hometown of The Saints. He was telling everyone that they should be listening to the band especially this album. So if my recommending of the album is not sufficient enough I think The Boss Seal of Approval should do it!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Rewind: Old New Borrowed and Blue - Slade (1974)

Old New Borrowed and Blue - Slade
Produced by Chas Chandler
Released 15th February 1974
UK Chart #1
Australian Chart #6
Finnish Chart #2
Norwegian Chart #3
German Chart #20
US Chart #168*

* The album was released in the USA on the Warner Bros. label, under the title Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet, minus the tracks "My Town" and "My Friend Stan" (as they had been previously released there on Sladest).

Side One

Side Two

    Noddy Holder - lead vocals, rhythm guitar
    Dave Hill - lead guitar
    Jim Lea - bass guitar, lead vocals on "When the Lights are Out", piano
    Don Powell - drums

Additional credits
Tommy Burton - piano on "Find Yourself a Rainbow"

Singles On Old New Borrowed and Blue
(Swiss Picture Cover)

B-Side: My Town
Released 28th September 1973
UK Chart #2

 (US Release Only)

Released February 1974
Did Not Chart

(Dutch Picture Sleeve)

A-Side: Everday
B-Side: Good Time Gals
Released 29th March 1974
UK Chart #3

(US Released Single Only)

B-Side: How Can It Be
Released May 1974
Did Not Chart


The fourth studio album from Slade had been delayed a bit due to the near fatal car accident of drummer Don Powell and hence in 1973 the Sladest compilation album had been released (and topped the charts). 

As this gave them time they worked a little harder on the musical arrangements for what would become Old New Borrowed and Blue.

The album kicks off with Just Want A Little Bit. The song had originally been released in 1959 by Tiny Topsy and had also been performed by The Animals (which was of course the band their manager/producer, Chas Chandler had been in).

When The Lights Are Out is sung by Jim Lea (he wouldn't sing lead vocals again until the 1987 B-Side Don't Talk To Me About Love). This is probably my favourite track on the album. It has also been covered by a number of bands down through the years including an absolute belter of a version by Cheap Trick for their 2009 album The Latest. In 1980, Jim Lea would release the song along with his brother Frank under the banner of The Dummies. American band Three Hour Tour also recorded a version of it in 1994.

My Town, which was a B-Side to the My Friend Stan single is a typical Slade rocker that would have you stamping your platform boots in time with Don Powell's big drums.

Find Yourself A Rainbow is another piano led song. Tinkling the ivories on this one was Tommy Burton, who was actually the landlord of a local pub that Slade would frequent! Not one of Slade's best numbers but it was covered by Max Bygraves!! 

Miles Out To Sea another typical Slade mid-tempo rock ballad. The song was covered by a German band called Not Fragile and Jim Lea recorded it for his band The Dummies in 1980 as the B-Side to Didn't You Used To Be You?

We're Really Gonna Raise The Roof - Slade at their foot stomping best here, they could churn these type of numbers out in their sleep!

Do We Still Do It  - This one joins the long line of Slade Anthems like Cum On Feel The Noize and Mama Weer All Crazee Now.

How Can It Be - Not quite a Country song but almost bordering on it and it's a style that Holder had been tinkering with!

Don't Blame Me - Was originally the B-side to their huge Christmas hit, a hard hitting vocal from Noddy Holder that sounds like he gargled some gravel he picked up from some local roadworks!

MY FRIEИD STAИ had been the first single (Powell had played on it. He was walking with a stick and had to be lifted onto the drum stool). It was a little bit different in that the song was more piano led rather than the usual crescendo of loud guitars! Chas Chandler had encouraged Jim Lea to finish the song after he had heard the bassist playing it at home. It would spend only 8 weeks on the chart and despite reaching #2 on the chart it was deemed a bit of a disappointment. Strangely enough it actually sold as many copies as their previous single Skweeze Me Pleeze Me which had gone to #1! It actually sounds a little out of place on the album I think!

Everyday - I don't think anyone on plant earth ever imagined that Slade would release a ballad as a single but they did so with Everyday, which came out out a month after the album was released. Surprisingly it only reached #3 on the chart, I say suprisingly because it is actually a real gem of single and surely deserved top spot on the charts! 

Dave Hill doesn't actually appear on the single as he was away on his honeymoon when it was recorded. His guitar parts were done by Jim Lea, who also played bass and piano on the song. When they appeared on TV promoting the song Noddy Holder was "playing" bass guitar!

Good Time Gals - closes the album. It had been the B-Side of Everyday but in the States Warner Bros. had chosen it as the single. It didn't chart.

Bob Stanley of The Times wrote (whilst reviewing the 2006 Remaster on Salvo of the album), "Slade are now known as the missing link between the Beatles and Oasis. This 1974 effort is the pick of their early albums: Noddy Holder’s girder-munching vocals are spread evenly between Black Country rock ("Just a Little Bit"), Macca-styled ballads (the hit, "Everyday"), and the odd music-hall blunder. This is joyous, unshackled and unpretentious stuff that reminds you how they rattled off six No. 1s." 

The Bonus Tracks on the Remaster were:
13 I'm Mee I'm Now And That's Orl
14 Kill 'Em At The Hot Club Tonite    
15 The Bangin' Man    
16 She Did It To Me    
17 Slade Talk To "19" Readers.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Safety Pins, Barbed Wire and Some Punk Rock Love!

Valentines Day - we like to go all out on this day to celebrate love and so here's a few things we have got to make the day go just as we planned! πŸ’•

We Have The Card!

We Have The Flowers! 

We Have The Poetry!
We Have The Love Stories!

And We Have The Music!

πŸ’“ On The Playlist πŸ’“
Do You Love Me - The Heartbreakers
Eddie & Sheena - The Electric Chairs
Baby Baby - The Vibrators
Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart - Patrik Fitzgerald
Barbed Wire Love - Stiff Little Fingers
Love Song - The Damned
The He Kissed Me - The Hollywood Brats
Love ↦ Building On Fire - Talking Heads
The KKK Took My Baby Away - Ramones
1-2 Crush On You - The Clash
Stay With Me - The Dictators
I Don't Need To Tell Her - The Lurkers
Back In My Arms Again - The Jam
I Got You Babe - Joey Ramone & Holly Beth Vincent
Punk Rock Girl - The Boys
All This And More - Dead Boys
Gimmie Your Heart - Subs
Things That Make No Sense - Dag Nasty
What Do I Get - Buzzcocks
Whole Wide World - Wreckless Eric 

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