Archive | May, 2013

Climbing Up From Down Under

13 May
Heath Cullen

Heath Cullen: The best thing from Down Under
since Nick Cave

Heath Cullen is set for significant things further a field of his home in New South Wales, Australia. Following his debut album “A Storm Was Coming But I Didn’t Feel Nothing” with his band The 45 (2011), his second “The Still And The Steep” hosts a cosmos of acclaimed musicians. All the following big names – drummer Jim Keltner who worked with John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, guitarist Marc Ribot who collaborated with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss and bassist Larry “The Mole” Taylor of the famed Woodstock band Canned Heat, and also a longtime Waits collaborator have lent their talents to Cullens own.

Check him and his album out. And a big thanks to Richy for the tip!

Jamie N Commons, 10 May, Papiersaal, Zürich

9 May
jamie n commons

Jamie N Commons from the video ‘The Preacher’

Born in Bristol and raised in Chicago, Jamie N Commons has an abundance of talent and knowledge packed in his musical suitcase. His gravel voice and musicianship fit well with likening him to Tom Waits and Nick Cave.
He’s already received a lot of attention for his debut EP The Baron in 2011 and his second out early this year; Alex da Kid.
He’s playing at Papiersaal, Zurich, Friday 10 May and is not to be missed. Other dates to be found on his website: http://www.jamiencommons.com/live/

The Walker Brothers Walk.

3 May
The Walker Brothers; Scott Engel, John Maus, Gary Leeds

The Walker Brothers; Scott Engel, John Maus, Gary Leeds

The actual date is contentious, but the Walkers Brothers did  bid adieu to fans in May 1967. Scott Walker (born Noel Scott Engel in Ohio on the 9th January 1944), John Walker (b. John Maus, New York, 12 Nov. 1943) and Gary Walker (b. Gary Leeds, 3. Sept 1944 in Glendale, CA). Leeds – an ex-memebr of The Standells, met Engel (former bassist of Routers) and Maus while they were performing with The Dalton Brothers. The three formed the Walker Brothers and after a dodgy start in the US, they moved to England where they were taken under the wing of manager Maurice King. Maus had debuted as lead vocalist with Pretty Girls Everywhere, but it was Scott Engel’s voice – that can still melt bricks in my opinion, which shot them in the top 20 with Love Her in May 1965.

Right place, right time, helped the Walker Brothers fill Phil Spectres Righteous Brothers shoes as they had enjoyed the success and were now starting to fall in the UK charts.  Hits like ‘Make It Easy On Yourself’, ‘The Sun Ain’t  Gonna Shine Anymore‘ followed, but friction in the Walker camp between Maus and Engel was starting to smoke – and the second solo EP ‘Solo Scott, Solo John’ in 1967 signalled their intentions to split. Their flirt with fame as a trio turned to tragic love affair .  They attempted to weaken their decline between 1965 and ’67 with tracks like ‘You Don’t Have To Tell Me‘, ‘Another Tear‘, ‘Stay With Me Baby‘ and the film theme tune from’ Deadlier Tan The Male‘ – a James Bond spin-off with a great title, 1967. And the final nail in the coffin came with the farewell song ‘Walking In The Rain‘ – with a diluted review from Musical Express, titled; ‘Walkers Last Not Great’.

Gary Leeds went on to form his own group, Gary Walker and The Rain, in the autumn of 1967. Maus went onto a solo career and wrote songs like ‘Annabella‘ with Graham Nash that received chart success. Scott Engel started taking another route – partying antics with play boy bunnys lead to the music of Jacque Brel and Engel was hooked. He covered 3 songs by Brel, including Jacky, on his first solo album ‘Scott’.

Well, you can’t keep a good man band down and the Walkers walked back on the scene in 1975 with their comeback album ‘No Regrets‘. The follow-up  ‘Lines‘  was similar to it’s predecessor but  their Swansong Album ‘Nite Flights‘ took on a brave experimental  flavour, one which would become better known in Scott Engels future solo work.

Walker Brothers Discography: Take It Easy With The Walker Brothers (1965), Portrait (1966), Images (1967), No Regrets (1975), Lines (1977), Nite Flights (1978), The Walkers Brothers In Japan (1987, rec. 1968). Compilations: After The Lights Go Out- Best Of 1965-1967 (1990), No Regrets – The Best Of The Walker Brothers (1991).

This is just my small way of paying respects to a band I loved as a teenager – born the year they split I can only commemorate a past I’d like to have witnessed. I’ve made a playlist of the tracks I love of theirs, and a couple of others from artists whole played a role in the Walker Brothers lives and vice versa. The Old Man is Back Again has been left out (see post Track of the Day, 27.03.13 ). David Bowie covers My Death (Scott Walker) in 1973. Tom Rush’s original version of ‘No Regrets‘ takes on a lighter, resignated sadness to the high drama of the Walker Brothers. Engel suffered from chronic nightmares which influenced a lot of his solo work. Rawhide could be one them? The Electrician – a political epitaph, written about N. America sending people to train torture in South America. Neko Case covers Engels ‘Duchess‘ in 1997, originally rec. 1969.

 

SCOTT WALKER   THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

THE ROUTERS 1962

THE DALTON BROTHERS    WITHOUT YOUR LOVE

JACQUE BREL    JACKY

JOHN WALKER    ANNABELLA

SCOTT WALKER     THE BALLAD OF SACCO AND VANZETTI

TOM RUSH   NO REGRETS

SCOTT WALKER   THE COLT AND THE ROPE 1969

GARY WALKER   THE VIEW

THE  STANDELLS

SCOTT WALKER   RAWHIDE

DAVID BOWIE   MY DEATH

THE WALKER BROTHERS   LOVE HER

NEKO CASE   DUCHESS

THE WALKER BROTHERS   THE SUN AIN’T GONNA SHINE ANYMORE

THE WALKER BROTHERS   THE ELECTRICIAN 1978

May Day Playlist

1 May
Walter Cranes' International Solidarity of Labour 1889

Walter Cranes’ International Solidarity of Labour 1889

The first of May – or May Day, has a load of stuff pinned to it – from way back to raucous pagan celebrations, the Celtic fest of Beltane – or in central northern Europe ‘Walpurgisnacht‘. For me it contours images of getting in a tangle round the school Maypole.

Regarded today as International Workers Day. 1st May celebrations were born out of of commemoration for the Haymarket Martyrs, 1886 in Chicago. As a demonstration gathered during a general strike for the eight-hour day, a bomb was thrown while police tried to disperse crowds – police reacted with pistol fire and 4 demonstrators were killed. Hence, a whole load of demo-ing went on between then and 1904, when the Socialist Party and Trade Unions were called in by the Second International Congress to kind of promote – in all countries, energetic demonstration, for the legal establishing of the eight-hour day, also to respect the class demands of the proletariat and let’s not forget universal peace. Quite a tall order.

As for todays playlist – eight in all, and keeping with the general theme. Never Been In A Riot by the Mekons, written in response to White Riot by The Clash seems like a good place to start.

  1. Mekons Never Been In A Riot
  2. Lee Dorsey Working In A Coal Mine
  3. Merle Travis Sixteen Tons
  4. Woodie Guthrie Talkin Hard Work
  5. The Vogues Five O’Clock World
  6. Jimmy Dean Big Bad John
  7. Merle Haggard Working Mans Blues
  8. Bob Dylan Maggie’s Farm (a totally not-fitting-into-the-dylan-60s poet image – 80’s rendition for Farm Aid)

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