At some point in the dim and distant past I must have signed up for a newsletter from Universal Music, so occasionally I get asked to complete surveys about my listening behaviour. It hasn’t changed much in the last few years – LastFM via my Squeezebox, Vinyl and CD through my Rega 25 and Arcams and downloads on my iPhone.
Universal rewarded me this month with a free download of Spector’s ‘Grey Shirt & Tie’. It’s now a rather nice earworm.
Spector are going to big in 2012 – The Guardian has them as a Critic’s Pop Pick and the BBC have them as the Sound of 2012. I’m predicting that there will be a craze for wearing glasses after frontman Fred Macpherson has made them cool, despite the obvious Buddy Holly comparisons.
We visited Cuba in 1997 just after Buena Vista Social Club CD was released. So it was a great surprise to see ten years later these senior musicians still struting their stuff at the Liverpool Royal Philharmonic Hall. There aren’t many of the original line up left, but Cachaito Lopez, Guajiro Mirabel, Aguaje Ramos and Manuel Galban took top billing with some younger musicians filling the ranks. We had seats 10 rows back, having brought tickets at Christmas for this sell out show – and what a show! Fantastic sound, tightly arranged, with a mix of old and new tunes (including a brief cover of The Beatles ‘Yesterday’!) We took our daughter as it’s unlikely these guys will be around much longer – I hope I’m that active when I’m in my 70s!
Hailed on iTunes as a band ‘about to make it big in 2007′ Midlake are a refreshing change amoungst all the soundalikes and wannabes currently choking the charts (ooh I love alliteration!) I picked there latest album ‘The Trials of Van Occupanther‘ off ebay – described by Amazon as ‘a relatively small indie band’ the opening track, ‘Roscoe’, sounds anything but, almost Fleetwood Mac or The Eagles in style, but with much better vocal harmonies – the sound borrows heavily from the 70s but sounding, day I say, more original?
Madeleine Peyroux is on a rare short tour of the UK, fortunately she was at The Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool tonight, and although I got late seats which meant we were right at the back of the hall, it was worth it.
Madeleine Peyroux is a shy performer – she looks quite awkward standing behind the mike, however after a few songs she seemed to relax and even make jokes! I haven’t heard her new CD so some of the songs I didn’t recognise, though her cover of Tom Waits’ “Looking For The Heart Of Saturday Night” was a delight. Highlights of the show were the ‘improv’ versions of songs off the ‘Careless Love’ album where the band were allowed to go off on long jazz solos – the keyboard player had some hammond style 60s organ which he had a real master of, and the double bass player was just cool (as most are!).
A great laid back gig in a lovely venue, just wish I was nearer the stage!
As with all the newspapers at this time of year I’m doing a best of 2005. Today it’s the turn of my music collection – having gone through the CDs I’ve brought here is my top 5:
1. Verve Remixed 3
2.The Big Romance – David Kitt
3.Illinoise – Sufjan Stevens
4.Piltre – Nitin Sawhney
5. Songs for Silverman – Ben Folds
and the find of the year
Nicola Conte - one cool musician
One of the downsides to having speakers in the kitchen but having the hifi in the room next door is the inability to use the remote control to change tracjs, volume etc. Not any more! Thanks to SmartHomes new RF adapter I can now make my infrared remote work through walls. It works by changing the infrared signals to radio waves, by swapping one of the battries (AA or AAA) with the adapter and installing the rather smart reciver near the hifi it works seamlessly. Clever gadget!
Details and Specification:
The internal RF adapter has a AAA-size transmitter and AA-size sleeve, so it can extend your existing remote control’s operating range, regardless of which type of battery it requires. It will work with almost any remote control you’d like. Want to use it with more than one remote? Not a problem: add as many internal RF adapters (sold separately) as you’d like. For homes where maintaining the décor is a prime concern, the system can be hidden from view by using the included Bright Eye Emitter, an unobtrusive, adhesive-backed LED at the end of a 6-foot cable.
I like to think that I’m pretty good at ‘googling’ – I’ve learnt of the clever things you can do (did you know google can do caculations for you? type in a sum and it gives you the answer) and so I like being given a search challenge – today my daughter wanted the words for the corrupted Jingle Bells (with Batman smells in the lyrics!) – easy googled – “Jingle Bells” batman lyrics – (note the quotes) – print out within 20 seconds. Next an mp3 of the ‘cat song’ we heard at the Eistedfford at Llangollen – tricky this as we didn’t have the real name of the song or who sung it, or the composer – first off googled Russian Cat song Llangollen – which gave us a review of the performance and also the name of the song and the composer – The Cats` Duet (Duetto Buffo di due gatti) by Gioacchino Rossini – googled that adding mp3 and got a performance of it by an American college – all within 2 minutes of searching! The last challenge was to find a song we heard while on holiday in Cuba over 7 years ago – no clue apart from it had something to do with a pineapple! So googled – “song about pineapple” Cuban tradional – amazingly it came up with a review of a CD called Son Cubano NYC, featuring a song called ‘Cuchillo Para La Pina Cubana’ by Charlie Rodriguez Y Su Conjunto – the translation of which is ‘The knife in the pineapple’ – checked out a sample on Amazon and sure enough it was the song! Swiftly ordered th CD for a Christmas present for my partner. What did we do before Google?
I’ve been sorting out CDs I hardly play any more ready to sell on ebay. Came across some Philip Glass CDs and remembered that in the late 80s, while I was at Liverpool Polytechnic I went to see him live in Glasgow with my mum, 1000 Airplanes on the Roof is described as ’science fiction music drama’ and was a cross between a concert and a film, lots of back projection of strange scenes and some brilliant music – I haven’t forgotten it.
The character “M” recalls encounters with extra-terrestrial life forms, including their message, “It is better to forget, it is pointless to remember. No one will believe you.” Are the surrealistic details an accurate recollection of a voyage through space, part of a drug-induced nightmare, or the beginning of a mental breakdown?
Michael Walsh (Time) called it “part Freud, part Kafka, and part Steven Spielberg” and declared that “operatic design may never again be the same.” Peter Goodman (New York Newsday) said, “the powerfully hallucinogenic musical monodrama … is a child of the ’80s in every way.” Michele May (Potomac News) called it “a light show, a ballet, a spoken opera, an art exhibit, a lesson in Zen. Above all, it is a totally innovative entertainment form.”
BBC6Music have been playing ‘The First Picture of You’ by The Lotus Eaters – a classic summer song first released in 1984. I never brought the single at the time, so I decided to track it down. Found the original 1984 LP (yeah, vinyl man!) of ‘No sense of Sin’ which features the song – cost me £25 though, so I best look after it!
Received a belated birthday present - The Magic Numbers CD – BBC 6 music have been playing their 2 singles alot, so I’d been toying with the idea of buying the CD. The band (2 guys and their sisters) have great vocal harmonies and some great guitar playing – its a gorgeous sounding CD and possibly this years band to go places.