Wednesday, July 18, 2007

"I'm a union man now, all the way."


Sod all this new music crap...

Okay, gun to my head, forced to choose or die, The Band's second album - the self-titled brown one - is my favourite album of all time. I'm posting about this now, rather than, say, two years ago because if I hadn't made the snap decision to pick this up to take to work this morning, somebody would have been killed and I would be in jail.

Yup, The Band saved the life of one of my co-workers (doesn't really matter which one, any of them could have got it today I was that wound up), not that they know. It's a testament to a record that I've lived with for about the last ten years or more that I still get that prick of excitement the minute the mournful horns that open 'Across The Great Divide' strike up and Richard Manuel intones "Standing by your window in pain, a pistol in your hand" like a man with the weight of many a world on his shoulders. Every minor little thing that's stressing me out just falls away at that point and I lose myself in this timeless music once again.

I remember my first encounter with this album was the Classic Albums documentary on it and just being enraptured both with The Band's music and their story. Arguably the tightest, most accomplished band of their time (of all-time, maybe), they also had their fair share of tough times and tragedies, most of which occurred after The Band had split. Co-vocalist and pianist, Manuel committed suicide in 1986 at the age of 42, while fellow vocalist and bass player, Rick Danko died from heart failure in 1999 at 56, following a long battle with drug addiction that he'd recently kicked.

Their eponymous 1969 album stands, in my opinion at least, as their finest work. In fact, even though the albums that followed all had reasons to recommend them, it was their last great record and doubles up with their 1968 debut, Music From Big Pink as one of the most formidable opening one-two punches of any band ever. Fusing country, rock 'n' roll, folk, r&b and soul in their own inimitable style, this record also acts as a retrogressive document of a bygone American era.

I'm not Greil Marcus, so I'm not about to analyse the album's core themes, but I will say that the 'old-timey' feel of the album - for want of a better descriptor - is intoxicating and enveloping (just try to sing along to 'Jemima Surrender' without mimicking Levon Helm's Arkansas inflections). Anyway, whatever, this is one of those albums that I believe everyone should own and cherish, as I have. The Band: it calms your murderous instincts.

The Band - Whispering Pines (mp3)

The Band - King Harvest (Has Surely Come) (mp3)

Another album from 1969 that helped me through a particularly hellish day today was The Flying Burrito Brothers' debut, The Gilded Palace Of Sin (spotting a trend?). Gram Parsons was a god, 'Hot Burrito #1' makes me weak at the knees (we've all been there, haven't we?) and this album is just the tits. That's all I have to say.


Sometimes you just have to let the music speak for itself...

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Hot Burrito #1 (mp3)

The Flying Burrito Brothers - Do Right Woman (mp3)

And finally, as you can see from the above pic, I'm DJing at Get Girl. Kill Baddies. Save Planet again next month. It's shaping up to be a good one, with an arse-load of bands and DJs all doing their stuff between the hours of 2pm and midnight on Sunday 12th August. It's at The Roadhouse on Newton Street and, oh well, just look at the poster! How could you not want to come to that?!

Get in touch if you want cheap guestlist. Plug, plug, plug...

A couple more shameless plugs...

I'm on Unity Radio on Monday night, guesting on the rather fine Makin Music Show, between 10pm and midnight. The show is hosted by the guys from the also pretty darned great Cosmic Disco blog, so expect the unexpected. Should be good fun, if nothing else.

Also, I'm on this week's Blog Fresh Radio talking about that Italians Do It Better After Dark compilation.

And definitely finally, read my review of Spoon's new album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, over at High Voltage.

Hasta luego,


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