Monday, July 30, 2007

While there is no doubt that the brit folk bands, ( I agree the key ones being the ones you mention brian), were interested in the american folk scene and in fact often new their counterparts personally, the brit sound is quite different , being celtic influenced rather then blues influenced. Even on Holidays they ( Sandy in particular) cant help sounding british, see Fotheringay for one of my absolute favorite FC songs..that track doesnt sound american to me and I thing Paul Simon owes a debt towards this british sound ....Also , FC didnt invent it for pentangle, John Martyn etc... they were all part of that scene and new each other , all there fiirst albums are all circa was a mass movement that came out of the british and scottish folk traditions which are 100's of years old and the cross fertilization with the burgoning American folk scene...I dont pretend to be an expert on the brit folk scene prior to all the bands brian refers to , but Bert jansches first album from 1965 is absolutely fantastic song writing, he went on with John renbourne to create pentangle and Sweet child is also essential listening... Niow I am rambling, but back to the original question, I love Holidays for the songs, rather then fore any important place in history and I agree with you brian that leige and Leif is better

Sunday, July 29, 2007

You know, I hate being caught out in a generality.....but hey I'll fess up and say mea culpa. So to re-phrase, what I was really trying to say is that specific FC records from that period are essential listening, and for me those records are Liege and Lief and Full House, with Unhalfbricking coming in a distinct third (possibly not for Stuart given his blog?) And the "Holidays" record, while having some lovely songs, is still the sound of a band finding its voice.

And why is FC essential? Because they were the first to my knowledge in the English folk scene, which in their case called on traditional English music and turned it into rock and pop songs. Folk and folk-pop music for the years previous had been dominated by Americans - Dylan, Baez, Phil Ochs, The Byrds, numerous others - so FC was almost a reponse to it, and you can see from their first few records, incl. Holidays, that they started out working with American songs (lots of Dylan covers, for ex) until they re-invented themselves as interpreters of traditional Brit songs with Liege and Lief - and that's the record I would own if you had to have one. Full House is equally good but doesn't have the benefit of Sandy Denny, who'd left by that point. Unhalfbricking is less interesting thematically, but is a fantastic record nonetheless - personal faves are the justly famous "Who Knows Where the Time Goes", plus "Autopsy" and "Percy's Song" (one of three Dylan covers on the record). The English folk scene - of which I own very little, but I know Stuart is a huge fan so I will let him expand and expound on this...but artists like Steeleye Span, John Martyn, Pentangle, even Nick Drake - grew out of the inspiration of Fairport Convention. Later celtic rockers in the 80's too (Spirit of the West eg).

Friday, July 27, 2007

"What We Did On Our Holidays" has been in my collection now for a few years and despite my best efforts it has still never really clicked for me. I'm not sure why it's considered essential listening. Perhaps Stuart or Brian could chime in here and fill me in. It's not a record I dislike but just one that doesn't leave any impression on me. If I were to hear a random track being played on the radio (not likely) I'm pretty sure the source would elude me.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Thanks Stu - I have a bunch of the FC records with the big names in 'em, including the three you mentioned (absolutely essential listening, for the rest of you), but not the Fotheringay and no solo SD stuff. For whatever reason, I focused on the Richard and Linda Thompson records (and later, his solo stuff) rather than Sandy Denny in terms of post Fairport music. I will go a-looking into it.

I saw a Denny-less, Thompson-less Fairport live at a small club in Ottawa in the early 80's, and despite the lack of (famous) original members it was pretty fantastic.
Btw...I've updated the links on the right side of the page for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is ease of use. Several of the old links required you to click, then copy and paste, or drag the contents into a music player. I went with that method in the past because I figured not everyone at the time was using itunes. Since most if not all of us are now doing so, it seems stupid to make this any more complicated than it need be.

The 'Podcasts' links will now open up in itunes and bring you to the subscription page, where a simple click will add that podcast to your list of automatic updates. If there are additional music-related podcasts you think I should include, or even non-music related ones, please let me know and I will add these.

Under 'Radio', I've added 'Fresh Air Edinburgh', a great station I discovered in Itunes radio. In addition to playing great music, they list the track and artist in itunes while playing, which the other two links aren't able to do at present. When you click on this link, select 'open' and it will open up in itunes. I've also added, which does what Pandora used to do (no longer available in Canada).

Streamlined the reading section, most of which are focused one music, two of which focus on fake news (the onion) and commentary on real news (salon). If you only have time to read one blog per day, Glenn Greenwald's daily (sometimes hourly) posts on media coverage and politics in the US is essential. The last is a link to the Toronto Public Library, which you should really bookmark if you haven't already.

The Giles Peterson comps are hit and miss. You can listen to a few samples at to see what I mean. You may also want to follow the trail of links of suggested music and labels to find other similar examples (duh).

What you definitely don't want to do is find yourself on the slippery slope to smooth jazz.

Thanks for the tip on Byrd Brian....I love that hybrid soul jazz music, maybe typified by archie shepp- attica blues which derek put me onto....I also love that electro jazz like Henderson Power to the people, and there is much in between these benchmarks, but damned If I can find it...Warren is probably the guy to tell me....Gilles peterson puts out comps on this occasionally ....
Regarding sandy denny, the box set is 5 cds and covers her whole carrer, Strawbs, Fairport Convention, Fotheringay, Solo....It is probably way too much for anyone other then the true nutters like me...The best records to have are unhalfbricking , Holidays, Leige and leif,
Fotheringay, and Sandy , and I would start with unhalfbricking or leige and leif.....
And for my second non-sequitur of the morning, also related to a much earlier blog of Mr. W's, Allmusic reminded me of a great electro-fusion jazz record today, Donald Byrd's "Electric Byrd" - deeply influenced by same-period Miles, but really good nevertheless. I know you were looking for some a couple of months ago.

Also, if you want to see how jazz got off the rails in the seventies, you should check out his record from a few years later - Black Byrd - which is soul/R&B jazz with black guys and girls chanting along....real Isaac Hayes meets jazz stuff. Sounds pretty cool in a purely retro way actually, but considering it came from a pure jazz trumpeter, and was a huge seller, well, it was the beginning of the end of the line for jazz for about ten years.
Stu - I meant to follow up on your note re Sandy Denny. I'm intrigued by the box set and will take a look one-line. I've never explored her non FC career. How would you compare the two and what are you favourite albums?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Following the link to wikipedia, I came across the listing for CFNY, which did little to settle the great Brian-Jackie debate of '07, but did point me to another site that has archived radio shows you can stream.

Stuart, I take your point about REM and the ludicrious application of a term to a band long since past its 'alternative' days--I'm pretty sure U2 is still winning or being nominated for Alternative Grammys, despite being mainstream for 20+ years. But I still think that 'Document' and 'Green' were college radio, though the single 'Stand' from the latter certainly helped them transition to the mainstream, solidified with 1991's 'Out of Time'.
Thanks boys...I've chosen to ignore Sturat's note and Marc's note, plus bury a number of external sources I have subsequently found ( , for ex), and leveraging Kyle's incredibly strong grey matter (similar to mine actually), have declared myself the winner in my debate with (the woefully underinformed) Jackie.

Gotta run out to pick up some Depeche Mode.
Most definately, alternative meant edgy non nickelback type music in the 80's , I think Jackie has it bang on Brian......I think that coincides with when cfny started calling themselves the edge.....then, somewhere in the early 90's the term became irrelevant.....I remember seeing REM in the alternative music area of HMV sometime in the early ninetys and by then they were as main stream as you could get ( but still a damn great band) .... (they lost their college radio stance with Lifes Rich pagent to me) Alternative rock has been interchangable with mainstream rock to me for about 15 years....Indy rock, however, is a relatively new term which still has some validity , I thought it originally meant "indy"pendant artist without a major lable contract like Julie Doiron. Indy now seams to mean what alternative rock used to mean in the 80's...see my above definition...I think everyone is jumping on this lable like they did the alternative lable to get some critical support where it often doesnt or should short these terms become marketing tools over time... PS I passed my stone finally and am 100% better....How was the battles last night??

Monday, July 16, 2007

I really can't recall what i did on the weekend let alone what i called music in 1987, but interestingly enough, do a search on line and you will find that most sources suggest that the term "alternative" was coined in the early or mid 80's. In 1991 it was introduced as a category at the Grammies you gotta know that it been around for a while by then!
i don't think I ever used the word 'alternative' in the 80s to refer to the music i was listening to at the time. to me, it was a term that started around the time Nirvanna broke (early 1991). bands like new order and the cure were always called 'new wave' and the only station that played that type of music, CFNY (now 'the edge' but the same location on the dial--102.1), did not start using the alternative label, to the best of my knowledge, until the 90s. i remember finding it irritating that there weren't any commonly used words to describe that music. 'college radio' seemed to be able to account for bands like 'R.E.M.' or 'Dead Milkmen' but it seemed like a bit of an American term that wouldn't necessarily encompass artists from across the Atlantic.

in fact, I recall making a series of cassettes in 1987 that was comprised mainly of songs I'd taped directly off the radio--how's that for audio quality--and they were labelled 'New Wave 1', 'New Wave 2, 3, etc..).

I have a freakishly good memory when it comes to these types of things (ask me to rattle off the last 30 stanley cup winners....come on....i dare you) so I'm saying your colleague has it wrong.

However, you are completely wrong when it comes to Depeche Mode, who are, or at least were for a time being, awesome. 'Just Can't Get Enough' is in the top 5 songs of the 80s, and they have at least 3 great albums (Music for the Masses, Black Celebration, and Some Great Reward), mentioned specifically here if only to draw a potential differentiation point from Derek, who will likely support my claim in general. As punishment for saying this, i invite you to recall the opening bars of 'personal jesus', which will now stay in your head for the remainder of the day.
OK, I've just had a lively debate with my friend at work Jackie on when "alternative" became commonly used to describe rock/pop music that wasn't chart-friendly. I argued that in the 80's we generally referred to anything off the charts as "indy" or occassionally college music, and that the term alternative was more of a 1990's thing. She says that by 1987 she was calling all of her favourite music (she mentioned the Smiths, The Cure, Depeche Mode..etc) alternative. I didn't remember ever calling the Smiths or Cure alternative (other than possibly as a general reference to dress and sexual orientation...where the term originated I believe and organically grew into an industry term for music).

I never called Depeche Mode anythign because I thought they stunk, but that's beside the point.

Anyone feel like sounding in to help me settle this?

Friday, July 13, 2007

Funny, I brought that Julie Doiron disc to the last cd club , but didnt play it.....Its quite good though I give the nod to the previous disc goodnight nobody. That disc has the most beautiful haunting winter song of all time in the hist......well you get it....its called when the snow falls in december, an absolute must... thanks for the other tips lads , I will have to check them out....
also , whats a good way to cure the kyndey stone blues, go blow 100 bucks on a box set... picked up the Sandy Denny set and as I am already a committed fan, unsurprisingly I love it...however, it is a bit like the faces box, in that the outtakes (in particular one disc of demos of just her and her guitar or piano singing) are magic... this is not always the case......

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Awesome recommendations Derek. Thanks. I know Frielander well (and have trumpeted, or rather celloed, his praises in the past) though didn't know he had a new release. I also know and like some of Nielsen's works, symphs and piano, but no str q's, so cool. And I'm a fan of Julie Doiron, but again didn't know she was out with something new...the others will be entirely new to me, which is even better.

As an aside, I question why emusic with all of its "new release" notifications (seems to be about two a day) almost never tells me about something I either (a) didn't already know about or (b) would really like, given my previous downloads. Julie Doiron is a perfect example. Kyle, can you arrange to work with them to re-program that?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hey Brian, may I recommend the following some of which I've just heard tracks from in the last few days driving to and fro Hamilton and sporadically tuning in to CKLN:

Erik Friedlander a cellist with an eclectic bent I heard this morning on their jazz show. They played a track from his latest disc Block Ice & Propane which was pretty cool. I'd also recommend the album Africa Calling by Wilton "Bogey" Gaynair a recent re-issue of a British jazz album from the 60's which I downloaded last week.

I also heard a track today from the most recent Julie Doiron CD which was just nominated for the Polaris prize. I didn't even recognize it as her and it was very good. Was surprised to see this was on e-music. I've also heard some good buzz about The Veils and their most recent disc Nux Vomica. The main guy in the band is Finn Andrews the son of Barry Andrews of XTC fame.

A recent Gramophone issue also gave plaudits to the Young Danish Quartets disc of Nielsen String Quartets, a record which I'm about to download myself as I know only Neilsen's symphonies.

Hope that helps a bit.
OK, 45 minutes later and I (cleverly) put two and two together and figured out that the new Spoon record MUST BE ON E-MUSIC. Oh I am good. So now I'm listening to it...track one is only marginally Joelian to my ears Kyle, but I trust from your note that I"ll be hearing heart attack-ack-ack-ack any moment now. So many bands channeling 70's pop/rock.

A couple of recent (yes, e-music too) discoveries for me were The Slip - their recent release Eisenhower is beat-based indy guitar rock and pretty well done, and a mix of styles that is a little new to me - more emphasis on rhythms and beat than I generally seek out, maybe a bit of The Feelies in their library....but also a lot of Death Cab and Geek Rock influences. Listen to Soft Machine and Children of December to see if it works for you. Through searches for The Slip I came upon Phoenix, which you younger cooler cats probably know all about, much ballyhooed in '06, but brand new to me...and in a generally similar way, quite good. Less geek, more dancy at times, but some very good songs.
On a similar note, I'm fishing for e-music recommendations. 65 songs to fill and a distinct lack of ideas. Needn't be just pop/rock.
anybody listen to the new Spoon album, released yesterday. one listen in and i'm alarmed at the number of songs that remind me of Billy Joel. But I'll keep listening.

What have other people purchased, enjoyed lately? Marc, you mentioned Icky Thump...are you enjoying it?