Archive for the ‘music’ Category


The case for the Live album – and which is the best one ever?

By Stefano on December 17th, 2012

Simon Poulter of What Would David Bowie do? Puts the case for the live album…

You’ve bought the singles, bought the album, bought the concert ticket, bought the T-shirt, bought your bus ticket home and now you’re being asked to buy it all over again as a live album of the show you’ve only just returned from. And, yes, you will buy it.

If you were at Newark’s Prudential Center this week, I’m sure, soon, there will be a live CD/DVD/Blu-ray Disc package of this or one of the three other gigs in the Rolling Stones’ run of 50th anniversary shows – two in London, two in New Jersey.

Over their fifty years as a band, they’ve released no less than 22 live performance albums. Such is their relentless self-merchandising under tireless CEO Mick Jagger (eight of the 22 albums are archive releases, brought out since the Stones’ last full tour), that you wouldn’t bet against a 23rd.

Stones live albums have, generally, caught the band in their natural musical habitat and, if you’re prepared to work your way through the 22, you come notice just how much they have evolved, even if you hold some deep-seated prejudice about the band from London’s suburbs who adopted the Chicago blues and went on to become easily the greatest rock and roll band in the world.

You should, then, start with the apostrophe-abusing Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!, released in September 1970 (and re-released in 2010 as highly recommended 40th anniversary box set) captured the band in two shows in New York and Baltimore just as they were in the midst of, arguably, their most creative period, with Let It Bleed already recorded and Sticky Fingers about to go into production.

It captures a band in subtle transformation from boisterous, God-help-us-if-your-daughter-brought-them-home British beat and blues merchants into louche, 70s rock monsters.

The Beatles were, it appeared, on the way out, and new, heavier rivals like Humble Pie and Led Zeppelin were emerging from the 60s. Woodstock, Monterey and Isle Of Wight had set the bar for rock performances for the next few years, as had Jimi Hendrix, who died just three weeks after the Stones released Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out! to acclaim, with critics hailing it the best live album ever.

Fast forward to 1978 and The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live, which was released last year along with the repackaging of Some Girls, and you get the full-on Stones in the 1970s, Keith Richards now clearly out of it on whatever laboratory he was living from, Ron Wood enjoying life as the ‘new’ Stone.

Musically, though, the ‘weaving’ of Richards and Wood’s guitar is already starting to become more evident on Some Girls Live. Critics have suggested that the junkie Richards became a lazier guitarist, contributing rudimentary riffs to live performances while the more accomplished soloist Wood made all the effort. Not so: on Some Girls Live you can hear a distinct new Rolling Stones emerge, with Charlie Watts – solid to this day – at the back, Bill Wyman’s often under-rated bass playing holding it together strongly, Richards and Wood over the top of it all with their guitar fabric, and Jagger out front, camping it up for England like Andy Pandy.

Fast forward again to 2004 and the Live Licks album, recorded on their 40th anniversary greatest hits tour and you have the corporate Stones, a polished, sports stadium band who, like some giant human jukebox, pick and choose their set lists on a night-to-night basis and can command guest appearances from Sheryl Crow (on Honky Tonk Woman) and Solomon Burke on their cover of his song, Everybody Needs Somebody To Love.

There may, inevitably, be some dross in the Stones’ 22 live albums, but there are some gems too. But 22 live albums in 50 years: compare that to their great rivals, The Beatles, who barely lasted four years after their first hit record before they gave up touring altogether. The only evidence that The Beatles ever played live at all are the clips of news footage of performances drowned out by pre-pubescent screaming, or the somewhat tired and strained vibe of their 1969 Savile Row rooftop performance. If only someone had only recorded them at Hamburg’s Star Club in 1960, or at the Cavern on their triumphant return to Liverpool two years later.

The case for the Live album

The live album has been one of the music industry’s most contested products, regarded as either cynical plundering of the over-benevolent punter’s bread, man, or pointless filler between studio albums. As the Rolling Stones have frequently demonstrated, the live album has – and continues to be – fittingly reflective of their supreme stagecraft.

Paul Weller, for example, can be similarly compared, having been responsible for some brilliant in-concert releases over the years, from music press front cover flexidiscs (I still own – somewhere – a Style Council EP from Sounds featuring a blistering version of Curtis Mayfield’s Move On Up) to numerous plugged and unplugged sets on his own. And I haven’t felt short changed or ripped off by any of them.

While it is true that some live releases are little more than greatest hits collections with added theatrical ambiance, many are deservedly landmark records in their own right. Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison relaunched his career, capturing a raw and emotional performance in front of inmates at California’s Folsom penitentiary, and coming on the back of the legendary country singer’s struggle with drugs.

With this context, a song like Cocaine Blues becomes more than just ironic, and when you hear a tannoy in the background ordering an inmate to report in somewhere, you have a live album as thrillingly unpolished as possible.

Simon & Garfunkel’s Concert In Central Park was another landmark, mostly for the fact it brought the warring duo back together again. The concert wasn’t so much meant to be a reunion as a benefit show for New York’s Central Park itself.

Despite being in the midst of some of Manhattan’s wealthiest real estate, the park was in a state of disrepair. So, apparently, the idea of half a million people traipsing through it for a pop concert seemed to be the answer… Concert In Central Park could be seen as a live greatest hits album of Simon & Garfunkel, which is includes some of their own solo material. It’s rough-round-the-edges (Garfunkel is said to have been unhappy with his vocals), but it superbly reminds you what made them folk-rock’s superstars.

Rough-round-the-edges, on the other hand, is what you want from The Who. Their Live At Leeds album, with its brown paper cover art, epitomises The Who live throughout their entire career – what you see (and hear) is what you get.

A loud – even on an album – run through their late ’60s ‘standard’ set, with hard core performances of Young Man Blues, Substitute, Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues, and a 14-minute assault on My Generation, it has been hailed as the best live rock album ever, but that’s always going to a subjective viewpoint.

There are, obviously plenty of live albums to remind us that some acts are no more exciting live as they were in the studio, which will thankfully explain the absence of One Direction Live From The Budokan in your record collections any time soon.

Gems you may have missed

Other live releases early on in careers, however, give fascinating insight in greatness to come. David Bowie’s Live In Santa Monica ’72 is possibly the greatest example.

It had been available for many years as a bootleg, but in being released as a limited edition CD four years ago, Bowie fans finally had their hands on an official version of a performance by the Dame in the midst of his Ziggy Stardust persona, with guitarist Mick Ronson at his absolute best, with the pair (and the other Spiders) romping through Rock’N’Roll Suicide, Life on Mars, Queen Bitch, John, I’m Only Dancing, The Jean Genie and Suffragette City, the latter presenting punk a full two years before anyone in New York had the idea of getting grungy with rock and roll.

Some live albums have built reputations as notable as many of the greatest studio albums. Frampton Comes Alive! has probably become more famous than any other album in the canon of Pete Frampton, the former Bromley schoolmate of David Bowie and Humble Pie founder.

Released in 1976 it provide to be another contradiction to the era of punk. While, elsewhere, some of Frampton’s own contemporaries were spitting their way through the punk explosion (he’s only a two years older than Joe Strummer…), here was this frizzy blond-haired pretty boy producing one of the biggest-selling albums of the 1970s, a live double album to boot, and one containing extended guitar solos.

Today, Comes Alive! comes across as somewhat pedestrian, the result of endless spins of the album’s Show Me The Way, Baby I Love Your Way and Do You Feel Like I Do America’s myriad classic rock radio stations. But there was a time when virtually every record collection featured that blue-spined double disc package with its distinct full-frame cover shot of Frampton looming out.

Another live album of genuine note is Seconds Out by Genesis. Recorded during their 1976 and 1977 tours for their A Trick Of The Tail and Wind And Wuthering records, it presented a band in transition.

After Peter Gabriel left in 1975, and Phil Collins stepped forward to become their new lead singer, the band started shifting towards more accessible material. Genesis were still telling stories, rather than performing pop songs (their first ‘love song’, Follow You, Follow Me wouldn’t appear for another year), but Collins had clearly replaced Gabriel’s somewhat aloof theatricality with his own impish, stage school-based cheeky-chappiness, which you can on the likes of Robbery, Assault And Battery and what was, then, their only hit single to date, I Know What I Like (In Your Wardrobe).

Seconds Out is a brilliant live album for its production quality. Plenty of bands have regarded live albums as well-intentioned ‘gifts’ for their hard-core fans, a souvenir of a memorable night, an acclaimed tour or simply a must-have for the collection with extended jams and unreleased cover versions capturing the band in their pomp and prime. Others have regarded them as official mitigations of bootleg recordings. Seconds Out is, even today, a live album I love for its authentic capture of the acoustic atmosphere of a big gig – the crowd’s roar as a band breaks into its opening number, and complicated and intricate songs that fill up the entire soundstage of your home stereo system to the extent you easily replicate the experience of being there at home. Without the beer-sticky floor of course.

But as album sales dwindle (and, perversely mainstream bands make more money these days from live shows), there is a proportionate decline in live album releases too, presumably because there are marketing people advising that “core demographics” no longer go in for them.

It remains, so it would seem, for the old guard to keep the live album flame lit. Like Led Zeppelin. For a band that didn’t really go in for releasing anything other than studio albums in their prime, they have been relatively prolific since their demise, with the awful The Song Remains The Same and How The West Was Won, not to mention Page and Plant’s No Quarter ‘unplugged’ entry. By old, I mean either those old enough to have been on the original Woodstock or Monterey line-ups, or those who wished they’d been old enough to be there.

Led Zeppellin weren’t at either Woodstock or Monterey, but then it’s arguable that by the time they took hold, they’d have been too big for either festival.

It is ironic that the Zepp have released more live material since they folded than was ever available during their career, with the recently-released multi-format Celebration Day capturing their one-off 2007 show at London’s 02 arena in honour of Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun.

It was, by all accounts of those who were there, a memorable show. But memorable for what? Probably seeing Page, Plant and Jones together again, with John Bonham’s son Jason providing uncannily similar chops to his late dad on drums.

Is it a classic Zeppelin show? Probably not, but this is where the fan’s compromise comes to effect: you know it won’t be quite like Led Zep were at one of their legendary Los Angeles gigs in the early 1970s, at a time when they were the ultimate rock bad boys on the road, but Celebration Day still goes to demonstrate why Jimmy Page has been one of the greatest rock guitarists since he was a teenage session player from Epsom, Surrey, playing on songs by Lulu, Marianne Faithful and, believe it or not, the Rolling Stones and The Who.

This year’s London 2012 Olympics, with its opening and closing ceremonies, perhaps suggested that the big stadium filling acts are in decline. Bruce Springsteen, U2 and their protégés Coldplay are amongst the few truly ‘big’ stadium bands left for whom you might want to buy a live album afterwards. Coldplay are certainly making the most of their elongated greatest hits show at the London 2012 Paralympics closing ceremony, by releasing Mylo Xyloto Live 2012, which captures the junior pomp rockers in their most arena-packing filling, U2 crown-usurping majesty.

The golden age of live albums was, however, without doubt the late 60s into the early 1980s. Hardly anyone who played Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore in San Francisco, or its sibling Fillmore East in New York during the 70s failed to release a live album on the back of such shows. The Fillmore East’s unique acoustics even made for a more pristine recording that captured the hall’s legendary ambience.

And thus, between the two venues, there is an enormous list of live releases from the likes of Henrix, The Grateful Dead, Steve Miller, Otis Redding, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, Frank Zappa, The Doors, Cream (and other Clapton vehicles), The Byrds, Carlos Santana, The Allman Brothers, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Pink Floyd. Indeed, there was a time when if you hadn’t released an album with at least one of the Fillmore venues in the title, you really weren’t anything.

Today, do we need them? The live album harks back to an era before everyone carried a recording studio around in their pockets, as they do today. Live albums were meant to prevent bootleggers sneaking shoebox-sized cassette recorders into gigs and making off with second-rate bootlegs.

Today, however, the concert experience is a gymnastic exercise in craning through a sea of smartphones recording shaky but high(ish) definition clips for YouTube and posterity. And often, by the time you’ve caught the bus home, much of the show you’ve just seen will have already been posted online, with reasonably good quality picture and sound.

The only thing you don’t get on a professionally recorded live album is the noise of people next to the iPhone owner, yakking on about their recurring flare-up of cystitis, or arguing about whose round it is…

Article originally appeared here. Stones pic from PA


Nirvana’s finest album – not Nevermind

By Stefano on December 13th, 2012

For well over a decade now Nirvana fans trawling through websites like Amazon have probably gasped with excitement as they saw previously unknown (to them at least) albums by their heroes with titles like All Of Us and The Story of Simon Simopath.

For as they were about to find out, before Kurt and the chaps pinched a Pixies riff or two and delivered a pair of noisy grunge pop platters, they made a few rather wonderful whimsical British pop sike albums.

They may only have been in nappies at the time, but the baroque, heavily orchestrated pop albums Nirvana left in their wake would easily dwarf their later grungier efforts. Interestingly Kurt, who had chosen the splendid nom de plume of Patrick Campbell Lyons, had affected a nasally but quite appealing singing style. Meanwhile Dave Grohl had also taken a very imaginative pseudonym of Alex Spyropoulos, and perfected the art of playing all manner of obscure instruments. As every Foo Fighters fan knows – he was wasted on the drums.

Nirvana mark one even played a few shows in the hipper London venues of the time and hung out with pop royalty like The Kinks, who would sadly not influence their later work at all, and of course future front man Paul McCartney.

Perhaps Nirvana’s finest hour then is All Of Us, a brilliant hotch potch of silky, psychedelic pop songs that stay in your head for days. It also features their first hits too in Rainbow Chaser, a heavily phased track with the most delicate of tunes, and arguably their best ever song Tiny Goddess, a Left Banke style lilt that would later be covered admirably by French folk ice queen Francoise Hardy (see below for video of her singing the song in Italian).

Other highlights include the title track of sorts, The Touchables (All Of Us), the theme from the movie of the same name which features an unforgettable rabble-rousing chorus.

Sadly, having delivered their wonderfully chirpy soft pop masterpiece Kurt and Dave hit their wilderness years (primary school) which would see them suffer pain and angst – feelings all too familiar to anyone unfortunate enough to have heard their In Utero album (just kidding grunge fans!).

Ironically I was fortunate enough to meet the real Patrick Campbell Lyons a few months before his namesake band released Nevermind. He told me that he was thinking of suing the other Nirvana for pinching his name. ‘Don’t waste your money!’ I told him. ‘That dodgy old American punk band will never amount to anything.’ Spot on there wasn’t it?


Sitar frenzy – how Ravi Shankar (along with The Byrds and The Beatles) created Psychedelia

By Stefano on December 12th, 2012

Like everyone I am sad to hear of the death of Ravi Shankar this morning. The Indian sitar player, who was arguably the first World Music (as we understand it now) star, wowed them at the Woodstock Festival, was chummy with The Beatles and much of pop’s aristocracy, and did much to popularise Indian arts and music at a time when few Western ears ears and eyes had experienced it.

From a pop fan’s perspective though it wasn’t so much Ravi’s own music that changed the world, but the way in which the young turks who heard him and tried to emulate him had a seismic influence on the development of contemporary pop. The key moment in the history of the sitar was when The Byrds’ guitar player Roger McGuinn introduced the George Harrison to Shankar’s sitar music at a party in in 1965. As legend has it both men were tripping on LSD at the time and McGuinn believes the experience inspired Harrison to travel to India where they met Shankar and took sitar lessons from him.

Harrison first played the sitar on Norwegian Wood on The Beatles Rubber Soul album. After that it was open season on the instrument with every young guitarist in both the US or UK either aspiring to play the sitar or more likely using Vox wah wah pedals to make their guitar sound like a sitar.

Here then are five great pop moments that wouldn’t exist had it not been for Ravi Shankar

1 The Byrds – Eight Miles High

Allegedly inspired by a jaunt to London, but quite often held up as an LSD trip set to music, Eight Miles High was an attempt to marry the Shankar sound (using guitars) with the free 60s jazz of John Coltrane, all wrapped up in a killer pop song. There is a pretty strong case that this was first psychedelic single ever coming as it did in late 1965 a good six months their rivals began to experiment with the new musical sound.

2 Traffic – Paper Sun

One of the best ever psychedelic singles – this was debut from the super group of sorts Traffic which featured a very young Stevie Winwood on vocals. Few would ever manage to combine soul-esque beats with a sitar driven psych tune in quite the same way.

3 The Rolling Stones – Paint It Black

Never slow to copy from The Beatles the Stones added a sitar to this classic 1966 single, which was perhaps their first and best brush with psychedelia (though Citadel on Their Satanic Majesties album and Jumping Jack Flash’s B side Child Of The Moon run it close). Brian Jones was a huge fan of the sitar and it lead to him explore the unique sounds of many other eastern instruments.

4 Genesis – I Know What I Like

Genesis were one of the few bands to use the sitar in the 70os. Here it is used to very good effect on their classic 1973 single I Know What I Like – a kind of psych song that was recorded five years too late

5 Lord Sitar – I Can see For Miles

During 1967 many record companies issued cash in albums featuring sitar versions of the day’s hits. Many were terrible. The album from Lord Sitar though was inspired and this sitar-driven, dance floor friendly version of The Who’s I Can See For Miles was a big indie club staple in the 1990.

And here’s that Electric Prunes Vox Wah Wah ad


45 years since the air crash that killed him we salute the incomparable Otis Redding

By Stefano on December 11th, 2012

Simon Poulter of the brilliant What Would David Bowie Do? salutes one of soul and R&B’s legends.

Early one May morning in 1965, Keith Richards woke up in his St. John’s Wood flat with a three-note riff in his head. He grabbed a cassette recorder and an acoustic guitar and quickly committed the riff to tape before going back to sleep. Or so he thought.

“Thank God for that little Philips cassette player,” Richards recalled in his autobiography, Life. He knew he’d put a brand new tape in the night before, but on inspection, saw that the tape was at its end. “Then I pushed rewind and there was [I Can't Get No] Satisfaction,” and, he explains, 45 minutes of snoring.

“It was just a rough idea,” Richards remembered, “the bare bones of the song, and it didn’t have that noise.” That noise being the demonic Gibson fuzzbox-fed sequence of notes that would become the Rolling Stones’ signature song.

Mick Jagger recalls that his Glimmer Twin’s original sounded more country on the original acoustic guitar-played tape. “It didn’t sound like rock. But [Keith] didn’t really like it, he thought it was a joke… He really didn’t think it was single material, and we all said ‘You’re off your head.’ Which he was, of course.”

Richards’ dissatisfaction with Satisfaction was that he felt the riff should, in fact, have been performed by horns rather than a guitar. Two months after a horns-free Satisfaction was recorded for posterity – and acclaim as one of the greatest pop songs ever – Georgia-born soul and blues singer Otis Redding walked into Stax Studios in Memphis to record, over the weekend of July 9, 1965 his third album, Otis Blue.

Amongst the songs – and at the suggestion of Booker T & The MGs guitarist Steve Cropper – Redding took a stab at Satisfaction. Richards’ guitar riff was replaced by a more upbeat brass fusillade by Wayne Jackson and the Memphis Horns. The song, dreamed up thousands of miles away in a North-West London apartment, was finally recorded as Keith Richards had imagined it.

With a collection of Redding originals like Respect and I’ve Been Loving You Too Long and covers like Satisfaction, Sam Cooke’s Change Gonna Come, Solomon Burke’s Down in the Valley, and B.B. King’s Rock Me Baby, Otis Blue established Redding as the undisputed King of Soul.

It was, however, a throne he would continue to occupy for just two more years before – until December 10, 1967 – 45 years ago this week – when he tragically joined Buddy Holly, Jim Reeves, the Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens in a tragic line-up of early pop stars to die in plane crashes.

Redding’s Beechcraft Twin Beech plane – which he often co-piloted – was a symbol of his rapidly acquired business acumen.

Unlike many of his blues and R’n'B contemporaries, who invariably had found themselves ripped off contractually and perpetually touring to pay off divorces and paternity suits, Redding had, by the time he died at just 26, built a portfolio of good investments, such as the plane and his beloved ‘Big-O’ ranch in Round Oak, Georgia.

Born in the small Georgia town of Dawson (Pop. 5500) on September 9, 1941, the Redding family moved to the ‘big’ city of Macon, 100 miles away. At school, Otis discovered a talent for music, repeatedly entering a local talent show, winning its five-dollar prize 15 times before being barred from entering the contest further.

By the age of 21, Redding had become a member of a local Macon band, Johnny Jenkins and the Pinetoppers. When they landed a recording session at Stax Records in Memphis, the tall, striking Redding managed to secure a solo recording for himself – which produced the ballad These Arms of Mine.

Like the hits that followed – Try A Little Tenderness, My Girl, Mr Pitiful and I Can’t Turn You Loose (later adopted by The Blues Brothers) – These Arms of Mine instantly captured Redding’s strength: a formidable voice, seeped in the South’s gospel, blues and even country music, that was both hopelessly romantic and rebelliously sexual at the same time.

Satisfaction and Otis Blue catapulted Redding into another level of superstardom, notably a black performer challenging the pop charts at a time of continued segregation in America.

As the ’60s progressed – in all meanings of the word – so did Redding’s career as he established his leadership of the soul movement, leading packaged tours of Stax artists throughout North America and Europe, touring along with protogées like Eddie Floyd, Carla Thomas and Arthur Conley.

Redding made worshippers out of young British blues performers, like Eric Burdon of The Animals who became a close friend, and Pete Townshend of The Who, whose ‘maximum R’n'B’ maxim fitted perfectly with the sweaty soul that the elegant Redding had crafted in Memphis and exported across the northern hemisphere. Another disciple was schoolboy Peter Gabriel who, in 1967, travelled up from his outrageously exclusive public school, Charterhouse in deepest Surrey, to see Redding play in London.

“I was extremely lucky, when I was 17 years old, to go and see Otis Redding perform at the Ram Jam Club in Brixton,” Gabriel told ABC’s Nightline in 2010. “When he came on, it was like the sun coming out. It was just this amazing voice, totally in command, great band, great grooves and passion that permeated everything.” 19 years later, Gabriel repaid the impact Redding had had on him by releasing Sledgehammer, an unexpurgated tribute that even included Wayne Jackson and the Memphis Horns on the track.

When The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, on June 1, 1967, barely five years had lapsed since them recording the sugary I Wanna Hold Your Hand. And yet here they were with an opus of free-thinking psychedelia, that opened up and expanded people’s minds in a way few recordings had done before. Otis Redding listened to it constantly as he took temporary accomodation on a houseboat on the other side of the San Francisco Bay in the hippy commune of Sausalito while playing a week’s residency at the Fillmore West. Inspired by Sgt. Pepper and the body of water between him and San Francisco, he wrote his own signature song, (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay.

Compared with the energetic oomph of much of his other songs, Dock Of The Bay was a gentle, simple song, musically and lyrically. A strummed guitar motif, which seemed to copy the gentle lapping of the cold bay’s water against the houseboat, was married to the down-home story of Otis’s life so far – “I left my home in Georgia, Headed for the ‘Frisco bay”. It became his biggest hit. And the last song he ever recorded.

On the night of Sunday, December 10, 1967, while at the pinnacle of his career, Otis Redding’s Beechcraft crashed into a lake in Madison, Wisconsin, while attempting to land at the nearby municipal airport. The crash killed Redding and four members of the Bar-Kays, his backing band. He was just 26-years-old and left behind his wife, Zelma and their three children Dexter, Carla and Otis III.

“The irony of Otis Redding was his personal ambition to fill the gap left in the soul world by the shooting in 1964 of Sam Cooke,” wrote Soul Music Monthly magazine in a tribute published soon after Redding’s death. “In an all-too-short career he achieved that ambition — and achieved it so decisively that in the last four years no one has filled the even larger gap left by his own death.”

“His loss was all the greater because he was the man who turned soul from a minority interest in Britain into a major explosion,” SMM added.

There have been plenty of soul singers since – singers cut from the same southern traditions, white singers like Janis Joplin who have channeled the same vocal passion. But not even contemporaries like Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Eddie Floyd, Isaac Hayes, Ike and Tina Turner, Al Green, Marvin Gaye or Sly Stone came close to the lethal cocktail that Otis Redding perfected for the five short years of his career.

“His death was a loss to the whole world,” said Steve Cropper at the time, reflecting the sentiment of the entire ‘Memphis Brotherhood’. “Nobody will ever know what he had in store for them. He was just starting to get into something. He was starting to get out of hard rhythm and blues. He went beyond that. He was hitting everybody all over the world.”

Redding’s influence found its way far and wide: Peter Gabriel may have been hiding it while performing Supper’s Ready in Genesis, but as a former drummer stimulated by ‘groove’, there was a frustrated soul boy fighting to get out of that prog rock titan. You could say much the same about Robert Plant – a blues singer performing heavy rock – he, too, was channeling the boy from Macon, Georgia.

Otis Redding may have been a soul performer, but the southern blues were within him. The irony, however, of him covering the Rolling Stones’ most famous song is that he helped turn them into an even bigger R’n'B band, still going 45 years after that fateful night in 1967.

Article originally published here

Pics from PA

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Top 5 bands to watch in 2013: Haim, Cheatahs, Palma Violets, Savages, Daughter

By Gerald Lynch on December 11th, 2012

A new year, a new start, a new favourite band to devote your life to! With 2013 almost upon us, we’ve hand picked 5 ace new bands to put you ahead of the cool curve next year. Haim, Cheatahs, Palma Violets, Savages and Daughter are all destined for big things in the coming months. Namedrop ‘em now and you’ll look like some sort of clairvoyant Lester Bangs come the summer. Scroll down to give them a listen, each with a short description of why you should be getting excited about them and what’s shaping up to be a vintage year for new guitar-based music.


Haim (comprising Este, Danielle and Alana Haim) will be soundtracking your summer with a folk-meets-R&B-pop sound that recalls equal parts Rumors-era Fleetwood Mac and Kate Bush and Belinda Carlisle. It’s quintessential California pop, like swigging down on a bubble-gum fizzy drink with sand between your toes, waves lapping at your feet. Expect a debut album in the Spring, with the band now signed to Polydor.


God, Cheatahs’ SANS EP was one of the most exciting things we heard this year. Lead single The Swan matches Ride melodies and My Bloody Valentine’s shoe-gazing, wavvy vibes with Dinosaur Jr drive. Now signed to Wichita Records (making them stablemates of The Cribs, Best Coast and Les Savy Fav), this East London based four-piece push the tunes to the fore without compromising shimmering soundscapes. We can’t wait for the album.

Palma Violets

Winners of the NME Track of the Year with their single Best of Friends, Palma Violets are being tipped as next year’s The Libertines or The Vaccines. And while this London four piece’s raucous guitars would certainly put them in the good company of those two bands, there’s more than a whiff of Echo & The Bunnymen’s post-punk experimentation in there too. Like a sonic crossbreed between The Walkmen and The Clash, these lot will be unavoidable by the Spring. Their debut album lands on 25 February 2013 through Rough Trade.


Another London based-band, Savages are an all-female post-punk offering that’s dark and intense. Think Public Image Limited, Siouxsie and The Banshees and Joy Division and you’d be on the right track. A formidable live band with a cult following building around them, it’s harsh, more than a little bit angry and ear-searingly cool. Angular and erratic, they’ll be the panda-eyed alternative to Haim’s sun drenched melodies for anyone with a bottle of black hair dye to hand next year.


Something a little softer to round off the list, Daughter are take the open-heart approach of Laura Marling and wrap it in shimmering sounds you’d expect from Sigur Ros or The XX. It’s delicate, gut-wrenching stuff, and with the mighty 4AD label behind them, expect these forward-thinking folkies to go mainstream pretty quickly.

Any bands we’ve missed? Who are your big musical hopes for 2013? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.


A Christmas Gift For You – Elefant Records ace new festive album

By Stefano on December 10th, 2012

The number one Christmas single! Once the preserve of Noddy, Roy and Shane and now a toss up between some TV karaoke dork and a Facebook inspired campaign to revive the career of an old metal band.

This is a terrible shame as the playlist below highlights quite how many great Christmas records there have been.

Adding to that list are some of the tracks from the new A Christmas Gift For You – Elefant Records’ compilation of yuletide goodies. What is great about this album is that it the label’s artists are all delivering brand new Christmas tunes. There’s no ironic covers of Mistletoe and Wine here!

In case the Spanish record label has passed you by, they combine both English and Spanish speaking band all of whom probably share a passion for Saint Etienne, Phil Spector’s Christmas album and Andy Williams’s TV festive specials.

The highlight here is provided by the recently reformed 80s power pop classicists The Primitives whose You Trashed My Christmas starts off like a indie thrash before the sleigh bells and harmonies kick in and its goes all Wizard! Magical stuff. The recent Primitives album has some very wonderful tunes on it too.

The album also sees the return of the Magic Theatre, a band whose London Town album of a few years ago was a time travelling affair in which a guy from the 60s ends up romancing a girl from the 1880s, all set to gorgeous strings and poppy melodies. Christmas Lights sounds like a refugee from that album with its gentle vocals, subtle strings and hummable chorus.

Other highlights include the Phil Spector-ish I Just Wanna Hold Your Hand On Christmas Day by The Yearning which sounds not unlike this magical mob and X-mas song by Edine Avec Mitnik Et Son Orchestre – which is a lovely duet sung in English.

Time for the Egg Nog Latte now…


features, music

The most under-rated British Indie bands of the 90s – Marion, Rialto and more

By Stefano on December 9th, 2012

I have a theory that it takes a decade or two before we can properly appreciate the popular culture from an earlier decade. Much of what we love about the 60s, from The Beatles to Peter Blake, was hideously unfashionable in the 70s and didn’t really return to the mainstream until the mid 90s. Similarly the shoulder pads and wonky keyboard bands of the 80s were held in high disdain for decades and it wasn’t until the noughties  that we remembered how much fun some elements of that decade’s music were.

And now it has  to be the 90s to turn to be re-assessed. Sure the first ripples of a 90s revival are already starting to appear. Watching Danny Boyle’s amazing Olympics opening ceremony I was struck by how much of it made me think of the optimism and colour of the early Blair years. Then a couple of weeks later I was off to see the climax of the games –  a gig  by the band who eventually won the Brit Pop war – Blur. In fashion too the heritage brands that had such a resurgence in the 90s are back and selling well.

Then when Chris Gentry of Menswear paraded his fake platinum disc for the band’s Nuisance album, it spawned a host of features about the band including this semi serious piece in The Guardian.

The first books about the 90s are also on the horizon. Alwyn Tuner wrote a very fine mini ebook about the 1992 election and its ramifications for politics and he will have an apparently more definitive tome on the 90s available very shortly. There will also be an interesting examination of London in  the 90s soon which looks among other things at the art school roots of Brit Pop and the way in which Hoxton was transformed from a seedy east London no go zone to the home of the main movers in  Brit Art.

Musically too there are the first rumblings of a 90s revival with Jake Bugg doing a very impressive impersonation of The La’s on his debut album and the growth of 60s obsessed psych bands, many of whom would have been very at home at the fringes of Brit Pop.

So now seems as good a time as any to take a look back over some of the 90s most neglected bands. I asked on Facebook and Twitter send in their nominations and ended up with about 50 bands to choose from.

There are so many that could have made the list from gothic popsters Jack through to harmony drenched power pop of Silver Sun. Maybe we ‘ll look back at them another time.

For now though here are ten, plus a whole load more on the Spotify list below.

Who have we missed? Tell us in the comments…

10 Five Thirty

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Picture 1 of 10

At the turn of the decade Five Thirty's take on Jam style power pop, albeit with a lot of twists and turns, was unique. Some blistering live performances and an exhilarating single, Air Conditioned Nightmare, made them one of London's hottest acts for a few brief months. An album, Bed, followed soon after, but the big break never came and they split in 1994. There's no Five Thirty on Spotify, but some great videos on YouTube.



Scott Walker unveils his top ten films – available at home via Curzon On Demand

By Stefano on December 7th, 2012

It has been a busy week for Scott walker. After releasing his brilliant but slightly bonkers new album on Monday and becoming our ultimate pop icon yesterday, he has also teamed up with Curzon Cinemas to choose his top ten films which you can watch at home.

Not surprisingly given his off the wall musical tastes, his film selection is also fairly offbeat and challenging, There’s a full list below with some words from the man himself.

If you do fancy watching them you can do on a Samsung Smart TV with the Curzon on Demand App on board or watch via your PC or iPad at .

We are big fans of Curzon on demand at Brandish as it give you access to streaming thousands of art house movies priced at between £1.70 and £4. It is kind of like Lovefilm’s smarter, savvier film buff big brother.

Here’s the list with words from Scott

First of all let me say what a privilege it is to be asked to curate this mini season of films on Curzon on Demand for Curzon Cinemas. An invaluable establishment that has over the years offered and offers still to me and countless other ‘cinephiles’ the very finest of cinematic treasures in the most conducive surroundings.

Though this choice hardly represents a definitive list of my all time favourite films and is conditionally drawn from the Curzon’s embarrassingly impressive catalogue, it nevertheless contains some unmissable glories and current works that have impressed.

A film like Angelopoulos’ The Travelling Players, is a work I’ve not seen since its initial release in the 70s but have fond, if hazy, memories of, so the impulse here is re-acquaintance of which I’m very much looking forward.

There are others like Le Quattro Volte. A film that truly casts a spell. Extraordinary, as for stretches of time, seemingly nothing much is happening and there is virtually no dialogue. Still you find yourself utterly absorbed from beginning to end, only later to be left wondering quite how this magic was achieved. Or, The White Ribbon – a meticulous essay on the making of a Nazi. Haneke is one of the great film-makers of our time and The White Ribbon in my opinion is his finest.

Those familiar with the legendary works of Mizoguchi like The Life Of Oharu or Ugetsu Monogatari, will be able to witness one of his greatest and most influential pre-war films, The Story Of The Last Chrysanthemum, as well as the later wonderful tale of a ‘floating world’ artist, Utamaro And His Five Women.

There is Chabrol’s La Cérémonie. A work that has two outstanding central performances from Isabelle Huppert and Sandrine Bonnaire. A compelling crime drama that Chabrol has joked is “the last Marxist film” where once again the bourgeois get theirs in style.

I’ve included Match Factory Girl. Possibly my favourite Aki Kaurismäki film though I am spoiled for choice as I find his work particularly appeals to my sense of humour. He’s Bresson with laughs. Not easy to pull off. I have also chosen his Take Care Of Your Scarf, Tatjana. A must for caffeine addicts everywhere.

There’s Il Divo. This is really what great cinema is all about. The director Paolo Sorrentino has taken a subject whose interest could easily find itself confined to Italy and the parameters of Italian politics and yet through amazing film making technique and fascinating use of sound, transforms into an unforgettable dream work that must be seen.

And, finally, Béla Tarr’s beautiful, spare, cinematic farewell,……The Turin Horse. I wouldn’t hold him to it though.


Brandish heroes – Why Scott Walker is the ultimate pop icon

By Stefano on December 6th, 2012

This week sees the release of a brand new album from 60s icon Scott Walker. And what a joy it is too with its instantly hummable tunes and striking yet subtle orchestration. It’s a return to his salad days and sure to be adored by anyone who loved his Walker Brother hits.

Well not quite. Bish Bosch is actually the third in Scott’s trilogy of albums which began with Tilt in the mid 90s and continued with The Drift a few years ago. It is unorthodox, unsettling, unpredictable, maybe even chaotic and in many ways stunning. Take the ‘single’ Epizootics which starts off with what sounds like a cow farting over a strange drum pattern in and it’s hook, for want of a better word, is strange fanfare over which Scott sings passionately. And that’s one of the more accessible tracks on it.

Oddly Bish Bosch does include a sleigh-bell infused Christmas track, but it shouldn’t dent Shane McGowan’s New York Christmas royalties cheque too greatly for The Day The Conducator Died (an Xmas Song) is a seven minute drone that focuses on the death of Romanian dictator Nicolau Ceausescu. It is a beautiful piece of music, but I doubt there is much karaoke mileage in it.

Like most other Scott Walker diehards I am utterly bemused by the album. In many ways I love it’s diversity and Scott’s sheer bloody mindedness in creating it, but I can’t help but wish that Scott would make an album a little more akin to the quintet of LPs that bore his name in the late 60s and early 70s. For Scott 1-4 along with the sadly neglected, even by Scott himself, Til The Band Comes In, contain some of the most passionate and majestic pop music ever written.

On those album the deep baritone singer, who could potentially have been the Sinatra of is generation had he stayed in the US, mixed his own stunning originals with covers of then little known continental artists like Jacques Brel and Michel Legrand. Scott’s voice is liquid gold, the orchestration courtesy of Wally Stott, is both dazzlingly inventive and beautifully subtle. And as for the melodies they swoop and soar before wrapping themselves around you,

For me though the main reason why Scott must just be pop’s ultimate thinking persons icon is that he was in many way so out of kilter with the time he lived. Although he was no stranger to the hip 60s clubs and was on good terms with the rest of British pop royalty Scott’s interest, passions and even the way he dressed made him stand out as a maverick, even then.

First up take the lyrics of his mid 60s hits. On thanks like Mrs Murphy and Montague Terrace In Blue Scott peers into the life of ordinary people in way that the recent new wave films – Saturday Night and Sunday Mon ring, Room At The Top, had a few years earlier. Very few others (ok Ray Davies) were writing in this way at the time.

Then when psychedelia hit and the Fabs and the Stones shared their worldwide messages of love, peace and optimism, Scott was singing songs about lonely men, evil dictators and the horrors of war – lyrics that were totally at odd with age.

And while San Francisco bands were pioneering a new kind of hip progressive rock music, Scott was rubbing shoulders with the squares featuring next to crooners like Val Doonican and family entertainers like Lulu on TV shows and singing the songs of MOR session hacks like like Tony Hatch.

He even looked different too. Not for Scott the Paisley and Kaftans that was de rigeur in the late 60s. Look instead at the cover of his Sings Songs From His TV Series album. Rather than hop aboard a fashion bandwagon Scott looked timelessly stylish in classic, shades, corduroy trousers, scarves and black jumpers. In many respects Scott was the James Dean of his era, an existential icon that seemed to be looking at the world in a different way to the rest of us.

Finally there is Scott’s huge influence. Bowie is obviously an enormous fan. And when Walker finally made a live appearance (of sorts) at the Barbican a few years back, British pop royalty, from Damon Albarn to Jarvis Cocker were queuing up to sing his songs.

So, I am voting Scott as pop’s ultimate icon. How about you?

features, music

There’s more to The Pogues than just Fairytale of New York

By Gerald Lynch on December 4th, 2012

Let’s set the record straight first of all. The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York is without a doubt the best Christmas song there’s ever been, and likely ever will be. The 1987 classic is often highlighted for its dry, humorously dark take on Christmas, full of alcoholism and drug addiction, and features the most fractious relationship in pop duet history. “Happy Christmas your arse / I pray God it’s our last” may be the line that everyone remembers, but it’s the crushingly down-to-earth, cynical regrets of call-and-response line “I could have been someone / Well so could anyone!” that really tugs the heartstrings. It’s a beautiful song, perfectly produced and arranged and is rightfully on track to compete for this year’s Christmas number one, 25 years after it narrowly and wrongly missed out on the title to a vapid Elvis cover by the Pet Shop Boys.

But for many, Fairytale of New York is where their knowledge of The Pogues begins and ends. Skewed by the stereotype-enforcing image of sometimes drunken, shambling and warbling frontman Shane MacGowan, many miss the beauty, poetry and keen political charge of The Pogues’ wonderful back catalogue. MacGowan may well be an alcoholic, but at his best, he’s also a genius.

When The Pogues first appeared on the scene in the early 1980s, they arrived like a hurricane. MacGowan, an Irish punk living in London, pulled together a band whose ability as technically marvellous traditional folk musicians was matched by their raucous live energy and politically astute punk ethics. Teetering on the brink of collapse with every note, The Pogues’ working class liberalism was a perfect match for their punk-infused-folk tunes, a stark contrast to the safe, sanitised synth-pop that dominated the airwaves that decade.

While banjo runs and tin whistle airs collided heroically against punk rock screams, MacGowan’s unique, wry lyrics are where the real magic of The Pogues lays. It’s often overlooked how evocative a storyteller MacGowan can be. Whether documenting a surreally drunken, liberating dream encounter with Irish Republican Brendan Behan in Streams of Whiskey to the solemn, seedy dissolution of big city life in The Old Main Drag, MacGowan’s romantic style deserves to be as revered as Bob Dylan’s lyrical work.

MacGowan’s alcoholism and drug addiction would eventually lead to the band’s demise in 1996, and while the albums Waiting for the Herb and Pogue Mahone (written following MacGowan’s 1992 departure) are still wonderful, they lack the bite and vitriol of MacGowan-era Pogues, a spark the band only reclaimed once they began reuniting with the troubled frontman once more for their shows since 2001.

The Pogues first three albums however (1984’s Red Roses for Me, 1985’s Rum Sodomy & the Lash and 1987‘s If I Should Fall from Grace with God) are absolute gems. Fairytale of New York may well be the hit, but no self-confessed punk or folk fan’s record collection is complete without those choice Pogues cuts. Likewise, as a live band The Pogues are still a force to be reckoned with; even as men of advancing years, their annual Christmas and St Patrick’s Day shows are the stuff of legend, joyous riots that all fans of live music should experience at least once.

If you’re still not sure where to start, here’s a handful of our favourite Pogues songs.

If I Should Fall From Grace With God

“If I should fall from grace with God where no doctor can relieve me / If I’m buried ‘neath the sod but the angels won’t receive me / Let me go boys”

The Pogues at their very finest in our opinion: a wild song of proud Irish nationalism and rebellion, there’s anger, hope and euphoria all scrunched tight as a fist as MacGowan decries centuries old British influence over Northern Ireland, and highlights the little-known plight of Irish slaves during the colonisation of America. A live highlight.

The Old Main Drag

“In the cold winter nights the old town it was chill / There were boys in the cafes who’d give you cheap pills / If you didn’t have the money you’d cajole and you’d beg / There was always lots of tuinol on the old main drag”

A sad, reflective (arguably autobiographical) tune from MacGowan documenting an Irish immigrant’s disillusionment and decline upon arriving in London’s “Big Smoke”. The Old Main Drag in question is the Red Light District of Soho and/or Kings Cross,  areas of the capital that even today are where you end up when you fall through the cracks of London society. Keep an ear out for that sustained, discordant note at the end; chilling stuff.

The Body of an American

“He fought the champ in Pittsburgh and he slashed him to the ground / He took on Tiny Tartanella and it only went one round”

Perhaps best known now for appearing at the close of hit TV show The Wire, The Body of an American sees MacGowan tearing through one his fastest, funniest and also saddest lyrics. Describing the manic attempts to have an Irish national repatriated upon his death in the USA, it turns to farce as the mourners get a bit too “piskey”. Jim Dwyer, the dead man in question, lead a troubled life that saw him pulled from his native Ireland to become a pro boxer, making loads of cash before having his reputation ruined for refusing to throw a match. It’s riveting stuff if you can keep up with MacGowan’s fast-paced delivery.


“”Come on you rambling boys of pleasure and ladies of easy leisure / We must say adios until we see Almeria once again!”

Written in tribute to a four day party in the middle of a desert the band had while filming the movie Straight to Hell (incidentally one of the maddest films of all time), it’s the sort of soundtrack few parties can ever live up to. To have been on that particular four day bender would have been quite an experience, if this song is anything to go by.

Sally Maclennane

“We walked him to the station in the rain / We kissed him as we put him on the train / And we sang a song of times long gone / Though we knew that we’d seeing him again”

A bit more ambiguous this one, describing the life and times of both a pub and a guy named Jimmy, who goes off to seek his fortune only to return home to find his his old way of life (and those who inhabited it) no longer exist. It also sings of some of the best qualities of the Irish people, not least the hope they’re able to express even upon the loss of someone dear. With the whole song able to be viewed as a metaphor for an Irish wake, it’s joyful rather than sorrowful.

Thousands Are Sailing

“Ah, no says he twas not to be, on a coffin ship I came here / And I never even got so that they could change my name”

We’ll throw this one in as a bonus, as it’s not written by MacGowan, but by Pogues guitarist Phil Chevron. Another beautifully evocative tale and tune, it tells of “the ghosts” of the Irish that “haunt the waves” following the mass migration to the United States over the centuries.

features, music

The Unmissables – the top 15 Psychedelic albums of 2012 – Tame Impala, Mmoss, Alfa 9 and more

By Stefano on December 3rd, 2012

Here at Brandish Towers we are huge psych fans. From the bonkers nursery rhymes on acid tunes of early Floyd through to the dream pop melange that is The Horrors we can’t get enough of it.

Here then are our favourite Psychedelic albums of 2012. It does of course  beg the question what exactly is Psychedelia?

Literally it is mind expanding music which over time has come to be associated with bands in thrall to its golden age of the late 60s.

These days it has become more of a catch all term though for bands who take mind expanding music from the past (Kraut Rock, Shoegazing, Dream pop and even a bit of prog) and give it a contemporary spin.

This year has all been about the huge success of Tame Impala. They are, however, the tip of a very large iceberg. Labels like Trouble In Mind in the US and Ample Play in the UK as well mags like Shindig and blogs like The Active Listener show just how exciting and diverse the psych scene currently is.

Here then are our favourite  15. What have we missed? Tell us in the comments. Spotify playlist below too.

Here our are top debut albums and singer-songwriter albums too.

15 Sky Picnic - Paint Me A Dream

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Picture 1 of 15

The second album from Brooklyn's biggest Floyd fans, Paint Me A Dream is a wonderfully trippy listen that incorporates elements of psych, early prog and kraut rock. The stand out track, Rippled also has a whiff of The Church's epic Priest=Aura opus, while Translucent Lucy is prime Brit 60s psych pop. Only available via bandcamp (and on vinyl too) at the moment.


music, News, Sport, Sports

Is Everton’s Leighton Baines the footballer with the best music taste? His top albums of 2012 revealed – Tame Impala, Richard Hawley and more!

By Gerald Lynch on November 30th, 2012

Everton and England footballer Leighton Baines may have just revealed himself as the player with the best taste in music, after revealing his top albums of 2012 on the club’s website.

The defender picked Dr John’s “Locked Down” as his album of the year, saying he was impressed by The Black Key’s Dan Auerbach who had produced the album.

Baines also picked Richard Hawley’s “Standing on Sky’s Edge” as another of his favourite records of the year, rounding off his top album list with choice cuts from Jack White, Paul Weller, Lana Del Rey, Bob Dylan, The XX, Neil Young, Mark Lanegan, Grizzly Bear, Cat Power and Eugene McGuinness.

Tame Impala’s ‘Lonerisim’ is one of Everton defender Leighton Baines’s albums of 2012

Baines had particularly strong praise for “Lonerism” by rising stars Tame Impala saying that the album “builds on the psychedelic sound that Innerspeaker possessed and while still full of distortion, fuzz and effects, it is also more melodic and the songwriting is improved from Kevin Parker, whose multi-tracked vocals are very Lennon-esque.”As for debut albums, Baines went for Toy, Melody’s Echo Chamber and By The Sea, while picked out Haim, Savages and The Wicked Whispers as ones to watch in 2013.

It’s a refreshingly current and tasteful pick from Baines, whose indie taste sets him apart from the dance and hip-hop fans that make up the majority of professional footballers. Having said that, we remember a time when all footballers were obsessed with Phil Collins, so basically anything is an improvement over that.

Baines joins the slim ranks of footballers with equally good taste in music, who include retired ex-West Ham defender and Scotland star Christian Daily (who had his own band and counted Weezer as one of his favourite groups) and Graeme Le Saux, who revealed Joe Jackson’s “It’s Different For Girls” as the first record he ever bought. Pat Nevin was a big The The fan too; seems the Scots are the footballing nation with the best musical taste then!

What do you reckon of Baines choices? Does he really have the best musical taste in football? While we’re on the subject, check out Brandish’s top debut albums of the year, and our favourite singer/songwriter records of 2012 too.

features, music

The Unmissables – 2012′s top 12 under the radar singer songwriter albums

By Stefano on November 29th, 2012

Today’s Spotify playlist brings together tracks from twelve songwriters whose 2012 albums might have passed you by.

It’s actually been a pretty good year for one man and his guitar type troubadours with stunning albums from Richard Hawley, Paul Weller and the young pretender Jake Bugg. Monday also sees the release of Scott Walker’s Bish Bosch, which is likely to be as brilliant as it is, well, bonkers.

There are a few that you may have missed, especially from British songwriters, so here are twelve great albums ranging from the quirky 60s pop of Suzi Chunk through to the return of cult legends Bob Lind and Bill Fay.

The number one album is astonishing and IMO by some distance the album of the year.

Do you agree with the choices? What have we missed? Check out the Spotify playlist below. If you want the top den debut albums of 2012 go here and for a round up of the year’s best music polls check out this brilliant blog.

12 Bill Fay - Life Is People

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Picture 1 of 12

One of the year’s most unlikely comebacks, Fay was a feted 60s songwriter whose two albums from that era are often described as the missing link between Nick Drake and Ray Davies. Musically he is still in the same territory on Life Is People and tracks like There Is A Valley are likely to win him many new fans

music, News

Gotye dominates Spotify’s most-played streaming lists for 2012

By Gerald Lynch on November 29th, 2012

Gotye3.jpgSpotify have revealed the artists making waves through their music streaming service in 2012, publishing the lists of most streamed albums, tracks, and artists, both globally and in the UK, as well as the most used apps in the desktop Spotify application.

Gotye’s ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’ is by far this year’s most popular song on Spotify, topping the global and UK streaming lists, as well as being the most shared song on Spotify. Gotye himself also places 5th on the ‘Most-streamed male artists’ list on Spotify too

Moving onto albums and David Guetta’s ‘Nothing But The Beat’ takes the top spot, followed again by Gotye with ‘Making Mirrors’.

Rihanna bags the most-streamed female artist award, while Guetta claims the same title for blokes, with Coldplay topping the list of most streamed bands.

When it comes to applications within Spotify, TuneWiki, the sing-along karaoke app with (sometimes dodgy) crowd-sourced lyrics tops the charts.

Check out the full breakdown of artists and albums topping the Spotify streaming charts during 2012 below.

Most-streamed tracks of 2012 (global)

1. Gotye featuring Kimbra – ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’

2. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Call Me Maybe’

3. Fun. featuring Janelle Monáe – ‘We Are Young’

4. Flo Rida – ‘Whistle’

5. Flo Rida featuring Sia – ‘Wild Ones’

6. Train – ‘Drive By’

7. Nicki Minaj – ‘Starships’

8. Maroon 5 featuring Wiz Khalifa – ‘Payphone’

9. David Guetta featuring Sia – ‘Titanium’

10. Loreen – ‘Euphoria’

See the full list of the Top 100 most popular tracks of 2012.

Most-streamed tracks of 2012 in the UK

1. Gotye featuring Kimbra – ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’

2. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Call Me Maybe’

3. David Guetta featuring Sia – ‘Titanium’

4. Fun featuring Janelle Monae – We Are Young

5. Nicki Minaj – ‘Starships’

6. Flo Rida featuring Sia – ‘Wild Ones’

7. Rihanna – ‘We Found Love’

8. Alex Clare – ‘Too Close’

9. Train – ‘Drive By’

10. Jessie J – ‘Domino’

See the full list of the Top 100 most popular tracks in the UK of 2012.

Most-streamed albums of 2012

1. David Guetta – ‘Nothing But The Beat’

2. Gotye – ‘Making Mirrors’

3. Drake – ‘Take Care’

4. Lana Del Ray – ‘Born To Die’

5. One Direction – ‘Up All Night’

6. Fun. – ‘Some Nights’

7. Rihanna – ‘Talk That Talk’

8. Coldplay – ‘Mylo Xyloto’

9. Carly Rae Jepsen – ‘Call Me Maybe’

10. Flo Rida – ‘Wild Ones’

See the full list of the Top 20 Most Streamed Albums of 2012.

Most-shared tracks by Spotify users (the most-shared tracks to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Spotify user’s Inboxes)

1. Gotye ‘Somebody That I Used To Know’

2. Carly Rae Jepsen ‘Call Me Maybe’

3. Fun. ‘We Are Young – feat. Janelle Monáe’

4. Flo Rida featuring Sia ‘Wild Ones’

5. David Guetta ‘Titanium – feat. Sia’

6. Flo Rida featuring Sia – ‘Whistle’

7. Train – ‘Drive By’

8. Maroon 5 – ‘Payphone’

9. Rihanna – ‘We Found Love’

10. Michel Teló – ‘Ai Se Eu Te Pego – Live’

See the full list of the Top 20 Most-shared Tracks of 2012.

Most-streamed female artists

1. Rihanna

2. Nicki Minaj

3. Adele

4. Lana Del Ray

5. Katy Perry

6. Carly Rae Jepsen

7. Beyonce

8. Taylor Swift

9. Loreen

10. Kelly Clarkson

Click here for the playlist featuring the Top 20 Most- Streamed Female Artists of 2012.

Most-streamed male artists

1. David Guetta

2. Flo Rida

3. Eminem

4. Skrillex

5. Gotye

6. Drake

7. Pitbull

8. Jay-Z and Kanye West

9. Chris Brown

10. Avicii

Click here for the playlist featuring the Top 20 Most-Streamed Male Artists of 2012.

Most-streamed bands

1. Coldplay

2. Maroon 5

3. Fun.

4. Mumford and Sons

5. Florence and the Machine

6. Linkin Park


8. One Direction

9. Train

10. Glee Cast

Click here for the playlist featuring the Top 20 Most Streamed Bands of 2012.

Most popular apps by usage

1. TuneWiki

2. Soundrop

3. We Are Hunted


5. Pitchfork

6. Digstr

7. musiXmatch

8. Billboard

9. Filtr

10. Moodagent

Via: Tech Digest


Happy Birthday Jimi – Experience the ten weirdest Hendrix covers

By Stefano on November 27th, 2012

There aren’t that many musicians that can describe das utterly unique. Jimi Hendrix is one though. His amazing body of music, and the astonishing way in which he played his guitar, simply rewrote the rule book in the late 60s. Many bands, often featuring accomplished musicians like Cream, followed in his wake, but none could get near the magic of Jimi and his band.

So on one level covering a Jimi song is a bit of dumb move. How you can hope to compete with something that was so distinctive? Yet many foolhardy musicians have tried to plunder the Hendrix songbook, often with unintentionally hilarious results,

We have pulled together ten of them here. Each is in its own way slightly bizarre but also rather memorable too. Spotify play list at the bottom of the page

The Gil Evans Orchestra – Crosstown Traffic – Jazz bloke Gil Evans loved Hendrix so much that he made an entire album of his songs  and gave them a very funky jazzy vibe. When it works, like on Crosstown Traffic, it works brilliantly. We have also included his mellow version of Angel – which wouldn’t sound out of place at some schmoozy wine bar – not very Jimi.

The Cure – Purple Haze – In which Jimi goes goth-lite. Robert Smith was always a big fan of Hendrix – there’s a bit of Hendrix on his early 80s psychedelic collaboration Blue Sunshine. This takes the original and slows it down and adds some modern sounding drums and odd vocals. Kind of fun though.

Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds – Hey Joe  – Ok so Hey Joe isn’t actually a Hendrix original, and yep I prefer The Leaves version, but it is probably more associated with Jimi than anyone else. Here the Aussie goth balladeer turns the drama up to eleven and delivers a stunning, yet very eery version. It is from the covers album Kicking Against the Pricks.

Soft Cell - Hendrix Medley - Yep you read it right. In the early 80s Marc and Dave had a bash at three Hendrix classics as part of the Art Of Falling Apart debut album sessions.  It is all tortured vocals, synths and drum machines.  Voodoo Chile is the oddest of the three. Borderline unlistenable. Marc Almond recorded some more great 60s covers later as Marc and The Mambas.

Jamie Cullum  -The Wind Cries Mary  - Piano lead easy cheesy version from the jazz vocalist. Actually rather good IMO.

Booker T and The MGs – Foxy Lady – One of of several great funky versions of the track. This instrumental take from the Green Onions fellas is easy soul crossver gold.

Dion -  Purple Haze – This might just be my favourite, Dion made a couple of great folk pop albums in the late 60s and this slowed down acoustic version of Purple Haze is genius. Nothing like the original, but it maintains its fragile beauty.

XTC – All Along The Watchtower – Swindon’s finest post punk psychsters used to do a blistering version of this when they played live (so I am told). This takes the Hendrix version of the Dylan song and adds squeaky vocals and dub bass before descending into a bizarre reggae-ish finale.

Spongehead – Love or Confusion – 80s Brooklynites with a bonkers version of the tune.

More Jimi – buy his guitar here.


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