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Sunday, 31 December 2017

A Personal Word on the Last Day of The Year

(There will be links to various things throughout this post so click on them to enjoy music and further information. Cheers for reading this blog in 2017. - Doug at S4L)

I trust that all of you who visit Soundtrack4Life have had a good Christmas and I apologise that I have not been on the ball enough to even offer up any seasonal music or even a Christmas Greeting to you. On this last day of 2017 I wanted to look back a little bit over the year on the blog and then try and look forward a little to what 2018 might bring us.

For the first time since 2011 I managed to post less than 200 blogposts which I am a little disappointed by as I had begun 2017 with some high hopes for this blog but it didn't quite pan out as I had thought due to various issues that I will mention as we go on through this piece.

One of the things you would have noticed on the blog is that some of the earlier posts from this year and also from the archives is that a lot of pictures are missing. This was due to a problem with Photobucket where I ended up losing my previous account and therefore thousands of pictures that were personal and also used for the blog. I have tried in a few places to rectify this but it is such a labour intensive task that I fear I must just let it be! The same goes for dead links etc I have been able to update some but going back over a decade of posts is a tough job and takes so much time and I was able to redo a few under the banner of Rewind or Revisiting...

Throughout the year there have been a number of series running:
 Looking back to 1977 with the series 40 Years of Punk and New Wave.  
The continuing series 45RPM .

As is the circle of life we said goodbye to a few musicians who have had an impact upon us down through the years: Mike Kellie (The Only Ones), Overend Watts (Mott the Hoople and Producer), Chuck BerryFats Domino and Tom Petty, to name but a few.😒

Continuing with that subject: Personal loss was also something that came this year as on the 28th December as my Mum passed away after a long battle with cancer. 😒 I had said over on Facebook that I attribute to my Mum my love of all kinds of music and whilst she did not always approve of my musical choices and purchases but I think she would have been proud to know just how her own love for music had made an impact in my own life.

As for health matters, that has actually played a huge part in not always being so active on the blog. I got diagnosed with Epilepsy earlier in the year and went through a period where I was having a number of issues relating to that and it meant that I was finding it difficult to think and give the time to writing that I really wanted to (sometimes a piece can take between 2-5 hours to prepare and my brain was struggling to focus for such long periods and so I didn't get around to posting half the stuff that I wanted to). This diagnosis of course had the knock on effect of meaning that going to gigs is something that I have had to cut back on even more (I haven't really been out to many shows in the past few years due to other health issues that I won't trouble you with at this time!). In February this year I attended The Gathering down in Wales for a weekend of music by Mike Peters and The Alarm and also went to see Stiff Little Fingers at the Barrowlands in March with friends who had come up from down South. I found both to be a bit of a struggle for me, what with all the flashing lights etc and therefore came to the decision that my gigging days would have to come to an end until I can get some control of my epilepsy issues. 

Whilst this is discouraging it hasn't dampend my love for music one bit and over 2017 I have tried to spotlight some new music as well as the old. The lights have been shone upon new albums/videos from Dropkick Murphys, Alison Krauss, Rhiannon Giddens, Ruts DC, John Mayall, The Darling Buds, Paramore, The Primitives, The Alarm, Blondie, Die Toten Hosen, Little Steven, Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie, Quatro, Scott and Powell, Henry Priestman and Les Glover, and of course many more that can be found in The Best of 2017 Series.

As for the Old, I have posted such a diversity of musical sounds that I scarely know where to begin. There was Janis JoplinThe Waitresses, Dr. Feelgood, David Bowie, MC5, Keith Hudson, Slade, Stiff Little Fingers, Patti Smith Group, Evanescence, Johnny Moped, Bruce Springsteen, The Photos, The Cult, Ramones, Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Buddy Holly, Otis Redding, The Damned, The Waterboys, and many more.

One of my favourite posts of the year would be from January as part of the 45RPM Series spotlighting a single that I had never heard of before but it brought out a level of musical anorakness in me that had me smiling for ages. The particular post was on The Snakes and their cover of The Flamin' Groovies' song Teenage Head.

What about the way ahead? Well in 2018 I will try my best to post as often as I can and offer up the best old and new music that I enjoy as well as trying to continue with the S4L Radio Show Playlist and a few other things. It might not be everyday that I post but I do hope that you will come back from time to time to check in and enjoy some music.

Thank you to the many who continue to revisit this blog. I am always amazed when I discover visitors from all across the world accessing this little place of musical respite and I trust that you will continue to maybe find something old and something new that thrills you and enriches your own love for music.

I wish you well for 2018 and in the words of Mr Springsteen I offer up this little verse that seems like a good parting shot for the year that has passed:

Land of Hope and Dreams
Live in Perth, Australia 2017

Friday, 22 December 2017

Words Ripped From A Soul Still Bleeding - Billy Lamont (2017)

Words Ripped From A Soul Still Bleeding - Billy Lamont
Infinity Publishing
Published 13th November 2017

I am not a literary mastermind by any stretch of the imagination (you only have to check for the bad grammar, poor punctuation and no doubt dubious spelling on this blog to confirm that! πŸ˜€) and I'm probably not that great at writing reviews (Amazon recently refused to publish one of mine because I didn't stick to their script), but if there is one thing I know and that's Poetry! Not like Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Byron, Dante etc (I'm not that well educated you know but I have read more books than a certain sitting President! πŸ˜‰)

Okay, so the Poetry I happen to know about often has a musical backing but hey it's still poetry! (You can understand why Amazon refused to post a review of mine because I've already departed a little from the subject!) Billy Lamont sometimes has musical backing so therefore I can say with all honesty that I am really trying hard  to stick to the script!

New York Still Has Its Poets!

New York is known for its Poetry. Take Dion and the Belmonts - that was the poetry of the street corners in The Bronx infused with Doo Wop Harmonies. Take Lou Reed (Brooklyn) and you have the poetry of the dark alley with street hustlers trying to make a dime, all to the tune of some crazy psychedelic beat. Take Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel (both from Queens - though Simon was born in New Jersey, another place that's loaded with Poets!)  and you have a more graceful type of poetry that was a bridge over troubled water or a sign written by the prophets on the subway wall. Take the Ramones (Forest Hills, Queens), especially Joey and Dee Dee, and there you have the poetry of dysfunction, the poetry of love, and all done at break-neck speed! I could add to that Patti Smith (though born in Chicago she developed as a Poet and a songwriter in Manhattan and Billy will be pleased I listed her as she's one of his favourites!) and Allen Ginsberg (another New Jersey born guy who ended up in East Village, Manhattan), though strictly a Poet he has dabbled with musical forms from time to time. I don't have time to say anything about Willie Nile (Buffalo, New York) and Jesse Malin (Flushing, Queens) except to say they are worth checking out also (C'mon Doug, get to the actual subject of this post!)

Then there's the Poetry of Billy Lamont (see, we are back on track now! πŸ˜‰). Sometimes set to music (as I mentioned above) - but not always. He has recently published a brand new book of Poetry called Words Ripped From A Soul Still Bleeding (even the title sounds so Poetic). A fascinating piece of work it is as well.

On almost every page you read the words and they flow with great passion and find themselves beating in time to the drum of the human heart. It wouldn't seem out of place to shout like Dee Dee Ramone before the start of each Poem "1-2-3-4"!

This new collection touches all spheres of life as we know it from the social world to the political world, the enviroment, to things we can see with our physical eyes to the things that we can only see with the eyes of faith. There is poetry to be found in every place. It's like he says in the opener Hero or Villain Of My Villanelle, "Poems bleed from my veins like ink from ink wells".

Spirituality to Billy Lamont is like breathing and poetry, very hard to separate them. I commend Billy Lamont for being part of that great unbroken chain of New York Poets and if these poems are anything to go by then there will be more to follow. All I can say is, "Billy, don't get that soul wound sown up yet!" 

The book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and can probably be ordered from your local bookstore.

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #01 ?

Just before we launch into what my choice for the #1 spot is on the The Best Albums of 2017 is I thought just incase you have missed the previous 19 (where have you been? 😁) I would post links for all of them just so you can look back in either astonishment at some of the choices or bewilderment that I hadn't included something you liked (well stick a comment in and tell what your favourites are, how else am I meant to know these things! πŸ˜‰).

The Best Albums of 2017
(according to Soundtrack4Life just to say so if it is disagreed with πŸ˜‰)

Way back on 4th June I wrote a piece for the blog on this album (which you can read here). I concluded it by saying, "The album gets a bigπŸ‘from me and is one of my favourite releases so far this year!"
That sense of excitement about it never left and here we are on 21st December announcing it as the #1 pick of the year! I won't really say anything more about it because in the original post from June I think I said what I needed to say and I stand by it.
All I will say is that 2017 has seen some really great albums released (quite a few that never even reached my Top 20 but I will be doing a post to spotlight some honourable mentions next time) and I am delighted to announce this as what I think is the best of the crop (and remember it's my personal choice, you will probably think there is one better).

 Soulfire - Little Steven
Wicked Cool Records/Universal Music Enterprises
Produced by Steven Van Zandt
Released 19th May 2017

  Tracklisting and Songwriting Credits
1 Soulfire 4:34 - Written By – Anders Bruus, Steve Van Zandt
2 I'm Coming Back 4:17 - Written By – Steve Van Zandt
3 Blues Is My Business 6:23 - Written By – Kevin Bowe, Todd Cerney
4 I Saw The Light 4:25 - Written By – Steve Van Zandt
5 Some Things Just Don't Change 4:03 - Written By – Steve Van Zandt
6 Love On The Wrong Side Of Town 3:52 - Written By –Bruce Springsteen, Steve Van Zandt
7 The City Weeps Tonight 3:30 - Written By – Steve Van Zandt
8 Down And Out In New York City 6:27 - Written By – Barry De Vorzon, Bodie Chandler
9 Standing In The Line Of Fire 4:33 - Written By – Gary Anderson (Gary U.S. Bonds), L. Anderson, Steve Van Zandt
10 Saint Valentine's Day     5:20 - Written By – Steve Van Zandt
11 I Don't Want To Go Home 4:20 - Written By – Steve Van Zandt
12 Ride The Night Away 5:20 - Written By – Steve Jordan, Steve Van Zandt
Lead Vocals, Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar – Stevie Van Zandt
  Backing Vocals – Audrey Martells, Cindy Mizelle, Elaine Caswell, Lajuan Carter, Martha Redbone, Tawatha Agee, The Persuasions (tracks: 7, 11)
    Baritone Saxophone – Ed Manion
    Bass – Jack Daley
 Drums – Rich Mercurio
    Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar,  
       Organ, Piano, Strings – Andy Burton
    Percussion – Daniel Sadownick
    Piano – Clifford Carter
    Tenor Saxophone – Steven Salcedo
    Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Stan Harrison
    Trombone – Ian Gray (track 8), Michael Davis
    Trumpet – Don Nissenbaum, John Martin, Kent Smith, Steve Jankowski 
 Violin, Viola – Jonathan Dinklage
 Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul
23 September 2017 at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #02 The Nashville Sound - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit (2017)

Sitting at #2 on my list of The Best Albums of 2017 is the sixth studio from Jason Isbell and the first since Here We Rest (2011) to have the 400 Unit credited as the artist (not taking into consideration the Live From Alabama album from 2012.

As with his last album Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell continues to make great strides to being one of the best songwriters around today. He's Country but not Country like some of the nonsense you hear on Country Music Radio. Isbell is Thinking Man's Country and if that wasn't enough to upset some he's also prepared to step outside the boundaries of Country and to embrace other sounds that also throws a spanner into the cogs of the machine!

He is also political but not in that usual redneck, ten gallon hat wearing, card-carrying Repulican way that some of the top players on the Country Scene are. He wears his heart on his sleeve and realises that whilst that may mean some "fans" are lost there are a lot more newer fans embracing what he's doing. Isbell was recently out supporting Doug Jones in the Special Election that saw Roy Moore (the favoured Republican with the allegations of sexual misconduct and other salacious baggage) defeated by the Democrats in Alabama (a sign maybe that people are rising up against the current administration and those ruling the roost in the Sentate).

The Nashville Sound is a wonderful array of sound from the acoustic opening Last of My Kind to full on Rockers like Cumberland Gap. It's loaded with songs for the desperate days in which we live like Hope The High Road. All in all it is a pretty balanced album that deserves a much wider hearing and despite the fact that the album is released on his own label Southeastern, an Independent label, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit are making great efforts in being heard in many far away places than just Nashville!

 The Nashville Sound - Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Produced by Dave Cobb
Released 16th June 2017
US Charts #4
US Folk Albums #1
US Indie Albums #1
US Country Albums #1
US Top Rock Albums #1
UK Charts #26

Watch and Listen To Performances of Songs 
from The Nashville Sound (and a Bonus NPR Tiny Desk Concert) Here:

 The 400 Unit
    Jason Isbell – lead vocals, harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar
    Derry Deborja – keyboard, Therevox
    Chad Gamble – drums
    Jimbo Hart – bass
    Amanda Shires – harmony vocals, fidle
    Sadler Vaden – electric guitar

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

LiveStream 13/10/17 
from Ryman Auditorium

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #03 Under Stars - Amy Macdonald (2017)

One of the things I love about music is its ability to surprise! I've said it often enough (even on this blog) that if you are thinking in a musically narrow way by only spotlighting on one particular style of music you often miss out on something good that's going on elsewhere within the world of chords, beats, tunes and harmonies. So I have been learning over the years to be a bit more open and sometimes a surprise comes from a place you least expect it to.

Such is the case with my affection for Under Stars by Amy Macdonald. Way back in January I heard the lead single from the album (Dream On) and thought it was such a great song but I actually didn't have a clue as to who it was at first as I had never really explored the music of this young lady from Bishopbriggs in Glasgow before. But that song gripped me and I knew I had to go and find out more. So I saw the video for the song (which I thought was pretty cool) and then began working backwards finding more of her music. Under Stars is Amy Macdonald's fourth studio album and was her first in four and a half years.

I got the album when it came out and again was totally blown away by the sheer quality of the songs (she and her bandmates have written most of them). I can't quite put my finger on why I love this so much. I have to confess that I do like listening to singers who have a bit of an accent (Imelda May, Dolores O'Riordon of The Cranberries and SinΓ©ad O'Connor also have that ability to charm me!) so maybe that might go a little way to my warming to her sound. I also liked the fact that she has performed a couple of Springsteen covers live in concert (and pulled them off very convincingly I hasten to add).

The reason this sits at #3 in The Best Albums of 2017 list is because it's one I have played a lot throughout the year since its release and I have never got weary listening to it. It may not be something that people would expect me to be listening to but hey, as I said I love the fact that at 54 years I can still be taken by surprise musically!

 Under Stars - Amy Macdonald
Virgin EMI Records/Melodramatic Records
Produced by Cam Blackwood, Tim Bran, Roy Kerr, Andrew Britton, Ash Howes and Mikey Rowe 
Released 17th February 2017
UK Charts #2
German Charts #2
Swiss Charts #1

A1 Dream On    
A2 Under Stars    
A3 Automatic    
A4 Down By The Water    
A5 Leap Of Faith    
A6 Never Too Late    
B1 The Rise & Fall    
B2 Feed My Fire    
B3 The Contender    
B4 Prepare To Fall    
B5 From The Ashes

The Deluxe Edition of the Under Stars Album includes eight Acoustic songs seven of which are tracks featured on the album. The other is an acoustic version of Bruce Springsteen's I'm On Fire (Amy has covered a few Springsteen songs live: Born To Run and Dancing In The Dark).

Under Stars (Acoustic)
Dream On (Acoustic)
Prepare To Fall (Acoustic)
Leap of Faith (Acoustic)
Automatic (Acoustic)
Down By The Water (Acoustic)
The Rise & Fall (Acoustic)
I'm On Fire (Acoustic)

Amy Macdonald Live DΓΌsseldorf 18/10/17

Under Stars 
Dream On 
Never too Late
Mr. Rock and Roll
Leap of faith
4th of July
Down by the water
Prepare to fall
This is the life
Dancing in the dark
Poison Prince

The S4L Song of the Year 2017 : That's What Makes Us Great - Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers (featuring Bruce Springsteen)

There's been a lot of great songs around this year and instead of providing some kind of chart outlining my favourites of the year I am just going to get right down to business and name this one as The S4L Song of the Year 2017.

I do so because it is a song that not only captures the heartbeat of many of my friends in the USA but the longing of all decent and civilised people who recognise that hate towards people who are not of the same race, gender, sexual identity, political affinity is not what builds a nation whatever country we happen to live in.

After that defining day back in January when the 45th President of the United States of America was sworn into office and all the hullabaloo that has followed from broken promises, to trying to block people from getting into the Country, to surrounding himself with a team of people who are barely qualified to run a nursery let alone a Government and the dismantling of policies designed to help the poor and downtrodden with regard to health, education and social security and wages, it is time once again for the voice of the people to be heard! Add to that the constant cry of "fake news" from anyone who dared to question the President and his mission to pour scorn upon the free press and the elevation of "real news" that had an incredibly right wing bias.

Then there were the terrible scenes in Charlottesville, Virginia where white supremacists clashed with counter-demonstrators, and a car ploughed into the crowd of anti-racist and anti-fascist protesters killing Heather D. Heyer (aged 32). Such an event caused even more questioning of the Government as they were lacklustre in their response and almost unwilling to speak out against the white supremacists!

Joe Grushecky captured some of that distress that people are going through in his song That's What Makes Us Great.

Love Can Conquer Hate and it's been witnessed in many places throughout the year. I think of the awful events of the Grenfell Tower Block Fire here in the UK and how the community bonded together to help. People from the Muslim communties and Christian groups working side by side to alleviate the pain and suffering of those affected by the tragedy. That's how it should be done, not by alienating people because of their colour, creed, nationality etc.

I didn't particularly want to get into a whole political debate about these things but sometimes you just have to say something..."It's up to me and you".

There's a challenge in the song that I think gives one all pause for thought:

"In the quiet of the night
I lie here wide awake
And I ask myself
Is there a difference I can make?"

That's What Makes Us Great - Joe Grushecky & The Houserockers (featuring Bruce Springsteen)
written by Joe Grushecky
Released April 2017

They come from everywhere
A longing to be free
They come to join us here
From sea to shining sea

And they all have a dream
As people always will
To be safe and warm
In that shining city on the hill

Some wanna slam the door
Instead of opening the gate
Aw, let's turn this thing around
Before it gets too late

It's up to me and you
Love can conquer hate
I know this to be true
That's what makes us great

Don't tell me a lie
And sell it as a fact
I've been down that road before
And I ain't goin' back

And don't you brag to me
That you never read a book
I never put my faith
In a con man and his crooks

I won't follow down that path
And tempt the hands of fate
Aw, let's turn this thing around
Before it gets too late

It's up to me and you
Love can conquer hate
I know this to be true
That's what makes us great

In the quiet of the night
I lie here wide awake
And I ask myself
Is there a difference I can make?

It's up to me and you
Love can conquer hate
I know this to be true
That's what makes us great

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #04 Olympiastadion, Helsinki July 31, 2012 - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band

Okay, maybe it's cheating a little seeing as this one you couldn't buy on the High Street or via Amazon or iTunes (or whatever your particular choice for musical purchases) but it was an Offical Release from the Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band Archives via his website.

This particular show has had a lot of play in previous years due to a great Bootleg (see video down below) that was going around and it's cool that what was the longest Springsteen show (at the time) finally got an Official Release. The only disappointment is that they didn't include the five song Pre-show Acoustic Set in the release. Oh well, "you can't always get what you want", as The Rolling Stones remind us!

With Bruce currently the hottest ticket On Broadway there are a number of great shows that have been released this year via the Archives that will soothe those longing for a real concert experience (so you have no complaints that you are going without! Go to the Website!). First and foremost though there was the fourteen shows from the Australian/New Zealand Tour between 22nd January - 25th February.

Then between April - December there have been ten Archive shows released (Click on the links to listen to a song from each of the shows):
April: St Louis 23/08/08 - Magic Tour.
May: Helsinki 31/07/12 - Wrecking Ball Tour.
July: Philadelphia 20/10/09 - Working On A Dream Tour.
August: Albany 07/02/77 & Rochester 08/02/77 - The Lawsuit Tour.
September: Houston 08/12/78 - Darkness Tour (all proceeds going to the MusiCares® Hurricane Relief Fund) and
Belfast 19/03/96 - Tom Joad Tour.*
October: MSG, New York 01/7/00 - Reunion Tour.
November: Stockholm 03/07/88 - Tunnel of Love Tour.
December: Jazzfest, New Orleans 30/04/06.**
(*Springsteen Solo. ** The Seeger Sessions Band.)

There's a great little piece by Stan Goldstein down at the bottom of the page where you can read a bit more about the Helsinki show - just click on the link to read it.

 Olympiastadion, Helsinki July 31, 2012 - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
Bruce Springsteen Archives
Released May 2017

A few highlights from the Official Archive Release
(Click on the links)

 The Finnish Finish Bootleg

Set list:
Acoustic Pre-Show
1. I'll Work For Your Love (tour premiere)
2. Leap of Faith (tour premiere)
3. No Surrender
4. For You
5. Blinded By the Light (tour premiere)

Pre-show is not included on the Official Archive Release.

The Main Show
1. Rockin' All Over The World (tour premiere)
2. Night
3. Out In The Street
4. Loose Ends (sign request)
5. We Take Care of Our Own
6. Prove It All Night (with the 1978 Intro)
7. Wrecking Ball
8. Death To My Hometown
9. My City of Ruins
10. Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street? (sign request)
11. Be True
12. Jack of All Trades
13. Downbound Train
14. Because The Night
15. Lonesome Day
16. Darlington County
17. Light Of Day (sign request)
18. Shackled & Drawn
19. Waitin' On a Sunny Day
20. Back In Your Arms (tour premiere)
21. The Rising
22. Badlands
23. Land of Hope & Dreams

24. We Are Alive
25. Born In The U.S.A
26. Born To Run
27. Detroit Medley (tour premiere)
28. Glory Days
29. Dancing In The Dark
30. Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out
31. I Don't Want to Go Home (tour premiere, sign request)
32. Higher and Higher (tour premiere)
33. Twist and Shout 

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #05 All American Made - Margo Price (2017)

The debut album from Margo Price, Midwest Farmer's Daughter was released on Jack White's Third Man Records in 2016. It gained her a lot of friends even among the critics who were falling over themselves to heap praise upon it (very unusual behaviour indeed especially when you consider it was a Country Album!) and Margo Price joined that rather small band of ladies who make up the Female Wing of The Outlaws of Country Music!

For her second album she went to the Sam Phillips Studio (Phillips Recording) in Memphis with the luxury of having a bit more of a recording budget (see the link for a 2016 Interview below where she discusses the making of the Debut Album that was recorded at Sun Studios in Memphis).

Where the Debut had mainly dealt with her own story, All American Made starts to look at the world around and at times it's not a pretty place (yep that's a harsh reality that some of the more popular County music artists don't always shine a spotlight on for fear of standing out from the crowd) and Price is brave enough to stand up and declare.

(This next section is taken from an Interview in Rolling Stone, the link is down below in order to read the rest. Margo talks a little about politics and the reaction to the election result, the title track of the new album and how important it is to speak up):

"Like a lot of America, I was kind of in shock," she tells Rolling Stone Country, calling between tour stops in September. "The songs had already been written up until that point but it did steer it a little bit, especially deciding to put 'All American Made' on it. During the Obama administration was when that song was initially written, but it just took on a completely different meaning after the election."

"All American Made," a largely acoustic number that closes the album, begins with sampled speeches from Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King Jr. and Richard Nixon, among others, mimicking the way messages often get blended into meaningless noise through our relentless news cycles. "Got a heartache on the bottom and a headache on the top / the part of me that hurts the worst is the hardest one to spot," she sings, taking a hard look at the symptoms and causes of American malaise. With no clear solutions, the song takes an unsparing view of the way our disagreements turn into deep chasms – a scene that's played out repeatedly and even violently on many occasions.

"I've always been one to want to discuss those things and try to make our country the best that it can be," says Price. "But it's so many complex and so many ugly, violent things that have been happening. It's really hard to turn a blind eye to that. I think it's important to voice your opinion and, regardless of people who tell me otherwise, I think that's what makes our country beautiful ... our freedom to express our thoughts and views. Our voices are all we have right now, and it's important to use them." - for the full piece from Rolling Stone check the link below Margo Price Talks Politics etc.

One of the other things I love about the album is that she's prepared to not stick to the script of a typical Country album but is prepared to bring in other musical styles to augment her own particular style.

Her debut appeared in many of The Best of 2016 lists and I hope that this one does also because it's a mighty fine slab of All American Made music.

All American Made - Margo Price
Third Man Records
Produced by Matt Ross-Spang and Alex Munoz
Released 20th October 2017
US Chart #89
US Folk Albums #4
US Indie Chart #6
US Country Chart #12
UK Country Chart #1

Listen to songs from All American Made Here:

A1 Don't Say It    
A2 Weakness    
A3 A Little Pain    
A4 Learning To Lose (with Willie Nelson)   
A5 Pay Gap    
A6 Nowhere Fast    
B1 Cocaine Cowboys    
B2 Wild Women*    
B3 Heart Of America    
B4 Do Right By Me (with The McCrary Sisters)    
B5 Loner*    
B6 All American Made

* Not on the Playlist above as there seems to be no You Tube videos or performances available.

Margo Price 
Rough Trade East - London 
Tuesday 7th November 2017

Monday, 18 December 2017

Kirsty MacColl

It's that time of year again when you turn on your radio or watch a tv show extolling the wonders of Christmas music that the voice of Kirsty MacColl is heard alongside The Pogues singing the delightful Fairytale of New York.

The great pity I think is that whilst the song is a now considered to be one of the great classic Christmas tunes of all time that we often forget that Kirsty actually had a career of her own and released a number of brilliant singles and albums and was passionate about spotlighting music often overlooked by the mainstream.

On the 17th Anniversary of her death I am convinced that Kirsty MacColl is someone worth remembering. I am amazed at how little success she actually had with her music when she was alive. She once said in an interview in 1989, "I love Pop Records. That's what I'm trying to do. I'm trying to get down to writing the perfect pop single." Listening afresh to her albums, singles, b-sides and rare recordings I think she did that over and over again.

I hope that if by reading this that you are discovering the music of Kirsty MacColl for the first time that you will give the girl from Croydon a chance to impress. She also said that "making records is just trying to put on to vinyl what I've got in my head", and I trust that what you find will give you a good picture of what was going on in her head and heart.

If you have heard her music before then I do hope that this leads you to dig out her albums, singles, CD's etc from your collection to give her a fresh hearing.

Here's just one of many Compilations that are out there of Kirsty's music. Enjoy.

Galore: The Best of - Kirsty MacColl
Virgin Records
Produced by Steve Lilywhite
Released March 1995
UK Charts #6

Listen Here To
Kirsty MacColl
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Sunday, 17 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #06 Savage (Songs From A Broken World) - Gary Numan (2017)

Back in 2013 Gary Numan released Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) to great critical and even commercial acclaim (it became his first Top 20 album since Warriors in 1993) peaking at #20 in the UK and only #175 in the USA. I really liked the album and also heard a couple of bootlegs from the tour that were really impressed me as well.

It's funny thinking about that because I have an odd history when it comes to Gary Numan and especially his band Tubeway Army. Way back in 1978 I had quite liked the first two singles from Tubeway Army (That's Too Bad and Bombers) but I saw them live and absolutely hated them! Then in 1979 I heard Down in the Park single and then Replicas album came out a month later and although I was more a guitar and drums kinda guy here's an album that is mainly electronic and I loved it. It was a work of genius. Then there were a few songs here and there I liked but over all I wasn't really taken with many of his albums put out under his own name.

One of the things that I have admired about him though is that he has been persistent in the face of falling sales, unpopularity among the masses, label changes, many knock downs from the music press, and he has continued to get up time and time again and in some way that has merely sharpened him and Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind) was the beginning of people starting to get him all over again.

Four years on from that Savage (Songs From A Broken World) entered into the world in September and once again I find myself stunned by its sheer brilliance. Album #21 and 39 years on from his first with Tubeway Army, Gary Numan has got something to say and I'm not the only one listening as the critics have been lining up to heap praise upon it and the fact that it entered the UK Chart at #2 shows that others have either returned to the Numanoid world or have freshly embraced it.

Savage (Songs From A Broken World) - Gary Numan
Produced By Ade Fenton
Released September 2017
CD, Cassette and Vinyl and Limited Edition Vinyl Picture Disc (500 Copies only!)
UK Chart #2
US Chart #34*
Australian Chart #76**

* Was Numan's first Top 40 album in the USA since The Pleasure Principle in 1979!

** Was Numan's first chart entry in Australia since I, Assassin way back in 1982!

(Limited Edition Picture Disc)

Listen To Savage (Songs From A Broken World) Here:

Gary Numan – vocals, keyboards
Ade Fenton – keyboards, programming
Steve Harris – guitars
Tim Slade – bass
Persia Numan – backing vocals

(UK & European CD Cover)

 2LP Vinyl Tracklist
A1 Ghost Nation    
A2 Bed Of Thorns    
A3 My Name Is Ruin    
B1 The End Of Things    
B2 And It All Began With You    
B3 When The World Comes Apart    
C1 Mercy    
C2 What God Intended    
C3 If I Said    
D1 Pray For The Pain You Serve    
D2 Broken    
D3 Cold

Saturday, 16 December 2017

S4L Radio Show Playlist #17 Let's Start A Band

Okay, the idea for this Playlist came to me in the middle of last night. I have no idea why on earth I was thinking about Amy MacDonald's Let's Start A Band but I woke up and shuffled around to find pen and paper and hastily scribbled the song titles for 21 songs down in what I now perceive to be the worst kind of chicken scratch ever (my Doctor would be proud as it's as readable as the notes he makes in my medical folder πŸ˜€)! Along with that there were some brief musings (well it was at 3am and it's hard to have long musings when you have just woken up! 😏) and then I put the notebook on the table and drifted back to sleep!

Looking at it this morning I could just about make out the song titles but the musings were unintelligable! Anyway, what follows is the S4L Not So Serious Guide To Starting a Band and What You Need To Claim World Dominion! (Okay, that's too bold a claim, but hopefully you'll enjoy this fun look at the process).

The Playlist

What's On The Playlist
Broken Radio - Jesse Malin (featuring Bruce Springsteen)
As is customary (and not really related to the theme of the show so much) we begin with a beautiful song by Jesse Malin that features Bruce Springsteen and also Ryan Adams on it.

The Beginning
Let's Start A Band - Amy MacDonald
Ask many kids these days what they want to be when they grow up and you'll probably get similar answers to when I was an ankle biter - a footballer, an astronaut, a fireman, a doctor, a brain surgeon, a grave digger (I kid you not!). Then there are those who actually have a musical talent of some sort that goes beyond playing the scales correctly on a Recorder or being able to sing I'm a Pink Toothbrush, You're a Blue Tootbrush without making a mistake. These folks almost seem destined to be able to live out their dream and be a Rock and Roll star (oh I didn't include that song in the playlist!) or get my drift.
It could all begin like it did for The Rolling Stones with Keith Richards meeting Mick Jagger at a Railway Station and a common interest was formed because of music.
So it begins with those famous words, "Let's Start A Band"!

What You Need For Your Band
The Singer
 You're The Voice - John Farnham
Now you don't have to have a voice like Pavarotti to be a singer, some of the greatest frontmen/women have not been great singers: Springsteen, Strummer and Bono for example! It does help if you can at least sing in tune (though not being able to do so has strangely helped Bob Dylan have a rather long career!).

The Guitarist
The Guitar - They Might Be Giants
He might not be as great as Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Devlin (he's a mate of mine and I just know he'll get a kick out of seeing his name in the same breath as Hendrix! 😎) but not all the great guitarists are Male, take Sister Rosetta Tharpe (congrats to her family for finally getting her name into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) or Sophie K. Powers from Duncan Reid and The Big Heads (she might even be better than Jimmy Devlin! 😁).

The Drummer
Let There Be Drums - The Ventures
Whether it be someone with absolute talent like Buddy Rich or Animal from The Muppets or one who can play three and a half hours every night like The Mighty Max Weinberg it's vital to get someone who can keep in time and not just get all fancy and bang off 15 minute Drum Solos because he once saw Rush play live!

The Bass Player
Bass So Low - MxPx
Not every Bassist can be as cool looking as Peter Hook or Skinny Crimmings (another friend who will be chuffed to see his name here!) but you want a guy who can at least communicate with the drummer because they form the foundation of the band. So you don't want someone like a Sid Vicious type who actually sounded better when his Bass wasn't plugged in but rather a Dee Dee Ramone type (without the baggage) who won't have flights of fancy and pressume he's the second coming of Mark King (Level 42)!

Piano/Keyboard Player
Piano Man - Billy Joel
Piano and Keyboards are optional and if you get one then make sure he/she has the split personalities of say Billy Joel or Professor Roy Bittan who play with such grace and charm and also someone who can play with the savagery of Jerry Lee Lewis or Keith Emerson (though you may want to make sure that the catering staff have removed all knives from the backstage area before showtime!)

Where The Bands Are - Bruce Springsteen
Every effort should be made to learn from others and so going to shows is important. This helps you to dream of yourselves up there on stage rather than the reality of playing the school disco etc!

Practice Practice Practice
Garageland - The Clash
You need to rehearse if you are going to be a good band and whether that be in your bedroom, a church hall or a garage then make sure you do it often (though if you are doing it in a garage make sure the drummer doesn't turn the car engine on just to keep warm otherwise you might end up becoming famous for a stupid reason rather than for your potential musical output!).
Larry Norman was once asked by Norwegian Press whether he agreed with the Bishop of Norway's assessment that Heavy Metal was bad. His response was, "Yes, Heavy Metal is bad but it could be good and better if they practiced more!"

A Word for Potential Fans and Gig Goers
Listen To The Band - The Monkees
There can be nothing more annoying for a band when they are playing (especially if it is the quiet emotional number) to hear the endless chatter of the crowd who seem more interested in what so and so posted on Facebook and whether it's okay to wear a Mankini to the beach (well we know that it's not okay to wear one anywhere in Public or even in Private!). This crowd chatter is not because they are bored with you as a band because it happens to even the biggest stars. I have a Southside Johnny Bootleg and the poor fella who recorded it was unlucky enough to be standing next to some folks who were discussing the toilets at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park and whether they were up to the standard of other venues! The place was so packed I believe that the poor taper couldn't move to another position to provide a decent live recording for those of us who are interested in these things (the music not the toilets!).
So people, if you have gone to see and Listen to the Band then do just that and save your conversations until after the show!

Wrote A Song For Everyone - John Fogerty (featuring Miranda Lambert and Tom Morello)
Now, no one is going to listen to your band unless you have songs, and by that I mean songs of your own. 
If you just want to play cover songs then be prepared to forever be the band that gets the Wedding Gig, the 18th Birthday Party, the Bar-Mitzvah and Children's Parties as warm-up to the Clown who makes Balloon Animals!
Now songwriting is not always easy, we all can't be Noddy Holder and write a Christmas #1 in July whilst sitting in the toilet for twenty minutes (that he was in there for that long suggests a poor diet, something else you need to consider!).
But what should you write about? Well the list is a long one and all manner of subjects have been written about down through the years from Clowns (The Everly Brothers), Prison Riots (There's A Riot Going On In Cell Block #9), Sex (far too many to list), Love (again far too many to list), Bowling (as in Take The Skinheads Bowling by Camper Van Beethoven), God (U2, the world of Contemporary Christian Music, John Lennon and many others), Anarchy (the Pistols and Crass), Politics (Billy Bragg and a whole tribe of others that would take a book to fill), Grandads and Grandmas, Pizza, Beer (and Brokenhearts - a useful theme if you plan on being a Alt-Country band), War, Peace...I'm sure you get the picture, you can write about pretty much anything and everything even feet (a nod to the mighty MUD and the classic Tiger Feet)!

Travellin' Band - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Gigs do not always fall into your lap on your doorstep, most times you have to be prepared to travel. Now just because you maybe have started to get attention and are being booked for shows in other places doesn't mean you should be thinking right away about getting an 18 Wheeler Lorry to cart you equipment about in (that might come if you take the leap to play stadiums - not outside them but inside and if you are doing that you will probably be selling a good number of records and not just the five you sold three weeks ago that were just pity buys!).
So you need to get some decent transport to get you around, we all can't be like TV Smith who carries his beat up acoustic in weathered floppy guitar case and travels to shows by Public Transport (unless he's flying somewhere).

Touring, Touring It's Never Boring!
Touring - Ramones
The fact that we are now talking about Touring is a clear demonstration that your band has begun to gain a name for itself and people are interested in hearing and seeing you live. It might be a tour on your own and by some stroke of fortune you might find yourselves on a tour as Support band. There are two different approaches to these.
1- A tour of your own means that you are all crammed into one vehicle for a period of days or even weeks and because you don't have lots of readily available cash you will eat, sleep and do whatever you can to amuse yourselves in that very same van without actually killing one another. Rest days might mean booking a hotel room for a day where you can actually sleep on something that is not a drum case or a guitar amplifier and it also gives you the opportunity to shower at least once every four days! I speak this from my own experiences as a roadie!
2- If you are on a tour as a Support act then things are a little different, it means that your tour manager has a budget and that you get to stay in hotels pretty much all the time unless an overnight drive is demanded. There is usually a catering service (if you are playing bigger venues) so you will at least be able to eat more than once a day (breakfast in the hotel and a catered meal at the venue). If not you will have a food budget from your Tour Manager that will at least get you something that will sustain you so you don't drop dead from starvation whilst on stage! If that happened it could be very bad for your band (or if you have a crafty manager and label they can exploit the tragedy to the full and have the story running on endless music websites and maybe even the tv news and your record sales might go up!).

Welcome To Our Big Rock Show - All Star United
Things are going well and success looks like it's coming your way.
Your setlist is honed and includes crowd pleasing favourites, maybe even your hit song on Spotify or whatever streaming services people are using and because Simon Mayo played it on Radio 2 (which means you are no longer trendy with the kids!).

To quote Paramore:
"Things are looking up, oh finally!
I thought I'd never see the day"

Looking Up - Paramore

Whilst on Tour one of the things that has become evident that you need is a Road Crew!

(We Are) The Road Crew - MotΓΆrhead
This motley crew is made up of Technicians for every sphere of your performance from lighting to sound, and to the personal instruments of your craft and your Merch team (after all that's where a lot of the money is made these days!). Where once you huffed and puffed to carry your own gear into a venue (unless you are TV Smith of course) you have now lost that superpower and your underlings are hired to carry out this most basic of duties!
Treat them well and the show will flow and you'll wave your hands in the air and act like you just don't care! But treat them badly and you'll sound like One Direction in one of those Shred Videos on You Tube and maybe come across like Echo and the Bunnymen playing in darkness!
There's a Technician for everything! It must be the easiest job in the world to be the Triangle of Glockenspiel Tech, I want that job! πŸ˜…

The Dangers
A word of warning must be issued regarding the life you are now living as a fully fledged rock and roll star (or whatever genre you find yourself fitting into).
The two biggest dangers are:
1- Girls!
Mood Rings - Relient K
Whilst it's kinda nice that women would throw themselves at you because of your status (well sometimes the Bass the player if he's not overly attractive and the Drummer because he's always sweaty are not the benefactors of this generosity) it should be stated that Women are complex human beings and are sometmes beyond our understanding. The lyrics to this song should be studied hard by one and all! 😲

2- Drugs
The Drugs Don't Work - The Verve
Never a good idea to dabble with drugs as they can kill the creative process for a band (of course there are exceptions to this rule, namely Keith Richards!).
They have ruined many a good band down through the years and of course many who have fallen prey to them have found themselves visited by The Grim Reaper a lot earlier than would have been expected!
An over abundant partaking of alcohol can also lead to disquiet among the band and is maybe best avoided especially during the daylight hours and left for a certain part of the night, like after the show!

One Last Love Song - The Beautiful South
And so we draw near to the end of this Playlist and of course one has to think of what the final song in the setlist is going to be and how you want to send your fans off into the night.
It could be a storming anthem, a nice mellow tune like the one chosen for the Playlist or something to give your fans some food for thought. Every band is different in the way that they do it, some leave the final song to their best known (and best selling song) others like Stiff Little Fingers used to end it on a note of fun with a hilarious cover version that you never quite expected.

The Parting Shot
The Load-Out - Jackson Browne

Now the seats are all empty
Let the roadies take the stage
Pack it up and tear it down
They're the first to come and last to leave
Working for that minimum wage
They'll set it up in another town
Tonight the people were so fine
They waited there in line
And when they got up on their feet they made the show
And that was sweet,
But I can hear the sound
Of slamming doors and folding chairs
And that's a sound they'll never know

Now roll them cases out and lift them amps
Haul them trusses down and ge t'em up them ramps
'Cause when it comes to moving me
You know you guys are the champs
But when that last guitar's been packed away
You know that I still want to play
So just make sure you got it all set to go
Before you come for my piano

But the band's on the bus
And they're waiting to go
We've got to drive all night and do a show in Chicago
Or Detroit, I don't know
We do so many shows in a row
And these towns all look the same
We just pass the time in our hotel rooms
And wander 'round backstage
Till those lights come up and we hear that crowd
And we remember why we came

Now we got country and western on the bus
R&B, we got disco in eight tracks and cassettes in stereo
We've got rural scenes and magazines
And We've got truckers on the cb
We've got Richard Pryor on the video
We got time to think of the ones we love
While the miles roll away
But the only time that seems too short
Is the time that we get to play

People you've got the power over what we do
You can sit there and wait
Or you can pull us through
Come along, sing the song
You know you can't go wrong
'Cause when that morning sun comes beating down
You're going to wake up in your town
But we'll be scheduled to appear
A thousand miles away from here

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