Wednesday, May 27, 2009


This album is proof positive that when a band stops pretending to be robots they can do something that stands the test of time...

Okay not the complete test of time becuase that probably involves some intricate mathematical equation taking into consideration the dark and lonely infinity of space but 'Red Line' sounds way better in 2009 than what came before (the good but dated Futureworld) and after it (the very dreadful TA).

They still lapse into spats of 'I'm a robot' stype singing, rigid and klangtonesque keyboards but every now and again theres something on 'Red Line' that can't help but make TRANS AM sound like an honest to god band. The drums for instance, theres some awesome tribal-circle stick work going on here and the synthesisers are used in a way that doesn't mean you feel post modern or ironic for listening to them.

I wonder what would happen if say there was a band of robots pretending to be real people? Actually that would probably be really shit and a lot like the JONAS BROTHERS.

Monday, May 25, 2009


So it would seem that North Korea is now a legitimate 'Nuclear Power', it has joined the arms race, albeit the little leagues. According to the newspapers the country now has the where with all to strike against South Korea and Japan, maybe both at once if it was feeling particularly saucy.

This really is a minor revelation next to discovering that BILLY JOEL is lead singer and organ grinder of Attila ...I thought these fuckers were Dutch, it would seem not. They certainly sound Dutch.

Anyway, Attila: At worst they sound like THE SWEET having unconcentual sex with DEEP PURPLE in a dirty men's toilet. At best they sound like THE SWEET having unconsentual sex with DEEP PURPLE in a dirty men's toilet. 

At times they get close to greatness but at separate times either a desperate willingness to sound conventional or the professionalism of Joel's voice stop proceedings short. Not to sell the band short, at different times Atilla are 'kicking your faces in' and 'hiding their weed'....wait, i think they are spitting on me now.... and apparently the future singer of 'Uptown Girl' is a phoenix rising from the flames.

Plus there's the record sleeve: Two longhaired dour faced ancient warriors hangin' tough in a warehouse full of meat. 

The last track on side 1: 'Amplifier Fire - Part II - March of the Huns' has it's charms and with the aid of some druid like moaning almost nails it, as does 'Rollin' Home' Side 2's opener.

There's just something a little staged about the whole thing almost as if two trust fund boys have been given a shot at the big time by their label owning uncle and in order to make the most of this golden opportunity they concoct an insane MSP, something to endear them to the kids....

'Dude! I know! the kids love Attila the hun! The kids love meat! The kids... erm, the kids love organs. I think our shit is totally coming together, let's stop at the fancy dress shop on the way to the studio.' 

Anyway, however it happened, it happened and this spectacular and mostly forgettable misfire was born.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


This looks like such a fucking awesome shop. It's in the right part of town and the window suggests a whole world of exciting plastic awaiting you. Inside, it's properly unkempt, not dirty but culturally ripe, good looking, inspired. There's some interesting pieces on the wall and the racks are suitably full.

Sadly two things kill it stone dead... First off it's 'violently over priced': the records are so unjustly expensive that I actually felt angry flicking through them. 

Hugely unrealistic pricing structure out the way gripe number two would be the woman that served me. I pulled the reissue of the first SUICIDE album from the racks and conceded, I have zero German, but you would have thought that anyone would understand:

 'Flexi?...23 Minutes over Brussels mit schallplatten?' 

She looked at me like I'd fucked her dog. Spoke German at me and then at her colleague who kindly translated.

'No this is not a flexi disc, it is a normal record. This is not a flexi disc.'

Come fucking on. You work in a proper record shop and you know what I am talking about. 

'No, sorry, I mean does it have the flexi disc with it. This originally came with a 10" INSERT HAND GESTURE HERE flexi disc with it.'

More German backing and forthing, more dirty looks. 

'Do you want the record?'

No I did not want the record.

This aside my personal other highlight was a copy of the reissue of the Spring album on Arkoma - 50 Euros.

I left empty handed. Good looking shop over enthusiastic pricing gun. But to be honest and in fairness to the moody staff I hadn't found anywhere much better than this seven shops later. Berlin is not a good place to record shop. Then I got to thinking why? Capitol city, vibrant scene, world class hipsters and bars better than almost anywhere on earth so why no record shoppy shoppy? Then it hit me.

The 39 year period from 1961 to 1990 pretty much covers the vast majority of all the music that I currently listen to: Sinatra and a spattering of early Jazz to 'Goo' by a SONIC YOUTH and 'Frigid Stars' by CODEINE. Interestingly enough Berlin was a fucking prison island, a city divided, behind the iron curtain and surrounded by the Eastern Block for the exact same period of time. So whilst obviously there were records and record shops in West Berlin during this period, practicalities would dictate that it would never have the same scene as Hamburg, Dusseldorf of Frankfurt. And now however many years later the fall-out from the WW II, the cold war and an unwanted Socialist state is finally hitting home in the shape of shitty record shops.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


So according to more than one review this is Brazilian psychedelic folk genius. It is also supposed to be somekind of pagan celebration of the black arts. I like it, it's got an awesome sleeve and even has a little devil's face on the label which you can watch as it spins round...

It's sunny outside and if the weatherman is to be believed (let's hope he's not an over enthusiastic reviewer of Brazilian music) then Summer is finally here and it's about fucking time. Winter was endless, Spring was again non-existent, add to that the fact that the first world seems to be falling apart and I need to be swimming in a river somewhere nice and warm more than ever. Right now even one of those 'Do Not Swim Here - Danger of Drowning' rivers would do... the ones with the reeds that get entwined with your legs and pull you under, the ones with the sharp and rusty old cars at the bottom waiting to gash a major artiery, the ones with the killer fish like in that film about the killer fish...

I read somewhere that this guy (Lula Cortes) made his own instrument which would go some way to explaining why it sounds like he's playing a broken guitar/sitar. I can imagine the recording session, all two hours of it.

Niw ni niw ni ni ni niw ni niw ni n niw niw ni niw... And home in time for lunch.

This record is over romanticised because not many people have a copy, the psych enthusiasts who big 'Satwa' up probably do so to justify the inflated price they paid for it. Don't get me wrong, I like it, it's very listenable but psychedelic folk genius? You can't bat that kind of wordige around, if you do what adjectives are you supposed to use to describe INCREDIBLE STRING BAND?

Monday, May 18, 2009


I really don't want this 'blog' to turn into a worthless list of over-weight fanboy gushings but shit in my hair if this isn't a two in a row of me being nearly lost for words.

I am at work, I am pretending to work, I am staring across an empty car park from a port-a-cabin watching a girl in a green t-shirt limp past the window with the aid of a crutch. My desk is a mess of papers and I hate myself for giving in and buying a bottle of diet coke from the violently over-priced vending machine. I was thinking about how meaningless my existence was, and how if only I could do one awesome thing before this all turned to ashes then maybe things wouldn't be so bad. But then I got thinking, who exactly judges whether something is worthwhile, whether something has succeeded in being awesome, who? Is it enough to do something truly awesome if it is left unappreciated by a wider audience, by the populous, by your piers? And then I got thinking about the album Jester by the band Machiavel.

'Jester' is huge, it's gigantic, it's the worlds biggest shark eating a nuclear submarine.... So why hadn't I heard of it until a couple of weeks back? Okay, I won't profess to be anything more than a keen novice, an ignorant but willing observer of the 'Prog' scene, but surely I should have heard of this already?

Given the endless 'Hot 500 albums ever' lists I have scanned for new music based information over the years, I would have thought that just one person would have thought to include this at some point, but no. After all, as things come in and out of fashion and musical culture is re-assessed such artifacts do find their way into 'best of ever' lists.

Example: ten years ago none of the likes of Mellow Candle, Trees or Vashti Bunyan could get a sniff, but today Acid Folk is something of a buzz word, a hip name to drop to your mates as you sip cider outside the 'Spack and Carrot' in Soho... So why haven't I seen anybody cycle past me on a fixed gear bike wearing a MACHIAVEL t-shirt yet? Okay, it could be the album artwork...

'Jester' will get it's props, Moog and ARP driven folk tinged singer/song writing with drum breaks... it has to. But back to my opening gambit, if everyone involved is dead by then, wasn't it something of a pointless task, I mean male Prog groupies and bad drugs aside? Where exactly is the justification the acknowledgement of awesomeness? Maybe to suggest that acceptance and awesomeness go hand in hand is wrong but if you truly are your own judge then what's to stop you destroying the filter and proclaiming everything you do to be awesomeness? It can't and doesn't work that way either... I mean was it really enough for them to make this album, it be largely ignored, them die, the entire thing be forgotten? Maybe it was. I just know that if I were Machiavel I'd much rather be playing this album in full to a packed out audience at one of those 'Don't Look Back' events than eating beans from a tin and selling carpet cleaning products door to door.

I am of course over analysing this. I should just be happy that I have at 35 discovered and been excited by an album in a way that I haven't in a very, very long time. The down side of course is that if fuels the fire, justifies the endless days spent shuffling between the moldy smelling men, the mutterers, the nut-jobs and the fucking beat collecting 'crate diggerz' for a look at the 'Just In' box.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


I just killed a fly.

Well it wasn't strictly a fly but it was a small winged bug type creature non the less. I went to the bathroom, there was something wrong with my eye so I gave it a bit of a poke in the mirror then when I was done I washed my hands. I saw what I thought was a bit of hair, a blip or something so I motioned it toward the spiraling water. It smeared and limped, it was not a blip, it was a flying creature. Now that creature is dead and I feel bad... And I still have no idea what is wrong with my eye. Looks like a swollen tear duct or something. Still as the fly-thing will testify things could be so, so much worse.

Walter Franco is Brazilian, I don't know much about him other than he has a penchant for the white suite and long hair combination currently sported by France's favorite son Sebastien Tellier. 

The album 'Revolver' starts off with some late Seventies sounding John Lennon business, actually that's being unfair to Walter. It is what Lennon might have done were he not busy disappearing up his own ass. (If he hadn't had Yoko to ground him, my bet is it would have happened a lot sooner. It's quiet probable that he would have completely vanished before they had finished filming 'Magical Mystery Tour')

Talking of Sebastien Tellier, the second song 'Eternamente' isn't a million miles off his awesome Eurovision entry from last year... The backing's the same at least. If Walter had thought to sing in a language that the first world might understand this would no doubt be a genre classic. 

Anyway, 'Revolver' moves on, stranger and stranger each track its own entity. 'Mamae D'agua' comes and goes and I feel better about being a fly killer. I imagine the fly shrugging it's shoulders in a 'them's the breaks' look on his face to the sitar and piano of said track before going to insect heaven. Goodbye fly that I did not know...

Stand out on side 1 is the closer 'Toque Fragil', was not expecting that - Guitar loop, phazed chanting and repetitive keyboard stabs.... oooh! and some reverse tape loop action... 

This album just keeps getting better and better.  Now he's singing in English! Oh, it's gone, we're back to Portuguese. This record is huge! The adventure continues on Side 2. It's like swimming into a magical underwater cave full of music, but only you have a torch on your head and you can see all of these amazing corals and other cool cave stuff like say stalactites or pirate treasure or something? Anyway, 'Revolver' is surprising, exciting and the kind of thing that puts many a supposed musical sacred cow to shame, I could list them but I wont, needless to day 'Sgt. Poopers' is in there right along side 'The Wall'. Walter Franco destroys both of them with his little finger... kind of like I did with that fly.

I paid 16 Euros for this from the newly opened Copacobana records in Nuremberg, listening to it has been the highlight of my weekend which says more about me that I am comfortable letting on...

Saturday, May 16, 2009


That I have time to write this on a Saturday says a lot of things, is it that I lead an empty life or have an unstoppable obsession? On this occasion I will go with option one. Today I am feeling one dimensional, doubting the path that I have chosen. If there was an afterlife, if we really were judged in some kind of spiritual rapture: The worthy ascending to a life of cloudy happiness the failed cast out forever left to live out their days in the knowledge that they have been rejected by some colossal planet shitting god... I wonder where I would end up? Would the giant bearded cybertron view this, my life as one well spent or would he laugh his humungous mouth in my face and leave me behind with the rejects?

The part of me that is attempting to defend this thing that I do, a time consuming obsession close to out of hand but never as of yet damaging would say that we few, we merry band of record obsessed idiots are seeing the world from a far richer perspective than many others. We are immersing ourselves in a facet of popular culture to a degree that will have baring on our ever day lives, arming ourselves with 2oth century reference points that can only serve to improve our understanding of that which surrounds us...

The other part of me, the devil on my shoulder tells me that for every day I have spent obsessing about some record or other, wandering aimlessly around some record shop or city, scouring the internet, for everyday I have wasted in this manner I will be forever haunted with reminders of what I could have done with that time: rock climbing, country walks,  cycling, white water rafting, exhilarating pass times that don't involve shuffling through bleak second hand shops on the off chance that some black plastic holy grail might peek from behind yet another top of the pops album and show itself.

Today I am retrospective, today I am melancholy. Today I am listening to 'Kangaru' by GURU GURU. I managed to pick up a clean copy on Thursday night after years of looking for one at a reasonable price. It starts well, 'Oxymoron' the opener brings to mind TORTOISE, a healthy sounding slide guitar gives way to some nice Krautrock wanderings. The second track is a winner as well as long as you can forgive the frustrating fairground ride sounding guitar solo. Track one side 2 and GURU GURU are HAWKWIND. Nice effect on the voice, kind of an echo, obvious guitar but a nice repetitive chug that ensures simplicity wins out to the noodling that is always just around the corner. 'Baby Cake Walk' turns into the albums closer 'Oooma Gooma' and it's back to a more comfortable tempo, nice bit of repetition and some piano. Four songs is a perfect length for an album. It ensures the tracks are substantial but not over-baring...

'Kanguru' is a good album, I enjoyed listening to it... But has it enriched my life? Has it provided me with a glimmering knowledge that will allow me to now see every day events with a wisdom that was not there previously? Seriously, I have no fucking idea.

Friday, May 15, 2009


This was i suppose my first ever record shop. I have memories of others: Record departments in Woolworths, Littlewoods, Top Shop in London even. But I am almost adament that this was my first one. The beginning of a sad obsession, the start of a beautiful distraction that would see me through the hardest of times and the reason that every time I move house the words 'logistical nightmare' are thrown around by whomever I discuss it with. In retrospect Hudson's was something of a life line and without it I might have ended up 'football' or tractor crazy spending all of my money on die-cast scale model's of early John Deere farm rigs. This place is at least partially to thank for me being here, right now and writing this...

I didn't buy my first record from here, that came from a weird pickwick-esque swivel stand on some indoor market, (Belle Stars - Sign of the Times 7inch) but pretty much everything I bought after that for a few years came from either Hudsons, Planet X or the market. (Planet X deserves an entire webpage and I will sooner or later at least do it the justice of including it here)

Hudsons in Chesterfield has been there forever. It rememebers the 60's. It probably remembers two world wars... fuck it, it probably remembers the civil war. For me it will forever be defined by the awesome and slightly see through yellow 13inch bags with the black Hudsons logo on them. In later years I used to play 'name that record' through the piss like hue that masked the album inside.

Even now years later I remember the staff that I used to annoy with my ridiculous requests, the once everyday records that filled the racks, some of which I would gladly fill my time machine with as and when it gets built. 5.99 an album, doubles 7.99, Japanese imports 14.99. There was the girl I always had a crush on who only seemed to work weekends, I used to try and impress her by bringing random hip US indie to the counter. Keith the owner, a deadpan local with a radio voice: I remember him giving Our Price Records a lengthy berating the week it opened a few doors down. His daughter worked there too, don't remember her name but I do recall her putting things aside for me, metal things, Motley Crue things.

This little shop saw me buy Now That's What I call Music 2 (The first one came from Martin's now John Menzies), It saw me through my metal years, my stint as a wanna be white rap-singer, my US indie years.

Today it's something of a compramise, one that the current climate has seen as necessary. Half of it is musical instruments the other half CDs and the tiniest of corners reserved for the stores former main stay. back in 1983 it was a shop of two halves, a shop of two doorways, one for the vinly boys and another for the more technologically advanced... the cassette lover. over time, the cassette side made way to cds, then dvds and now, now I have absolutely no idea as I couldn't bring myself to go in. I don't know if it was the explosion of memories waiting for me inside or that I feared being recognised and having to summarise the past twenty or so years, whatever it was that glued my feet to the cobblestone pavement it wasn't letting me inside that shop. The best I could do was take this picture as proof that I didn't dream the entire thing.