Posts Tagged ‘Gram Parsons’


10 reasons why The Byrds are the most influential rock band of all time

By Stefano on May 3rd, 2013

1 They brought Dylan to the masses


And helped him on his discovery of electric music

2 They influenced The Beatles


The Fabs hero-worshiped them, and many Beatles tracks feature that trademark Byrds jangly guitar. Rubber Soul was almost a Byrds tribute album.

3 They were first to get a Psychedelic song in the charts

This was a full year before most of their contemporaries started making trippy pop music

4 Michael Clarke’s barnet is one of the most copied haircuts ever


It was de riguer for Indie chaps in the mid-80s

5 They invented country rock


And this does it better than anyone else

6 Their members launched some incredible solo careers in the 70s

Gene Clark’s No Other is a masterpiece, David Crosby made some wonderful albums and then there’s the fantastic Gram Parsons’ albums

7 They made tambourines popular


Not just for salvation Army types

8 They were a massive influence on just about every great 80s indie band

You can hear that ringing guitar everywhere, from early Primal Scream through to The Stone Roses

9 They talked about Space Rock before anyone else


A good five years before Bowie and 30 years before Spiritiualised.

10 This

Perfect, almost forgotten single




Classic mellow psych and country from Kontiki Suite

By Stefano on February 13th, 2013


It is barely February and there has already been a glut of great new albums. Jacco Gardner is on constant rotation here, Foxygen are IMO the most exciting new band in years and then for more mellow moments there’s Kontiki Suite’s On Sunset Lake.

The band from Cumbria (quick q any other bands from Cumbria – could only think of It Bites) has just released a gorgeous power pop/country album in On Sunset lake. For me its gentle harmonies conjure up the spirit of late 60s janglers like The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers alongside the much missed Cosmic Rough Riders and the wonderful London based band The See See. Music Man is the best place to start, a gentle slice of whirling psych that builds to a tremendous climax.

The album has just landed on Spotify too.

I had a quick bit of correspondence with Craig Bright from the band – detailed below. And you can also read more about them in the latest issue of the best music mag in the world Shindig.

How did you get started – were there other bands before etc

Each of the 6 of us have been involved in music and other bands for a while. Kontiki Suite originally started as a 3 piece which came together to develop the demos Ben had made over the years. Gradually over time we’ve pieced together the now definitive line up of the band which has been in place for just over a couple of years.

What is so appealing about west coast guitar music?

Melody. Harmony. History. I’m not altogether certain we set out to create music that could so definitively be described as west coast, but we can’t deny our love of that sound and influence it has had on us or the obvious way it comes through in our music. The west coast sounds extends to include various elements such as folk, country and psychedelia, all of which come through heavily in our music, but I guess ultimately we write pop songs, however they are presented.

Who are you influences? What bands do you like?

I’m sure that each person in the band would answer this quite differently, but I guess the two songwriters, Ben and Jonny, would have to have the biggest say in terms of influences. The obvious classic artists such as The Byrds, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Buffalo Springfield. Individually and collectively we like a lot of bands, both old and new. As well as the influences, the obvious lineage through the 50s, 60s and 70s of the likes of Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Nuggets stuff, Gram Parsons and Big Star play a big part, on through the 80s, 90s and more recent times with The Rain Parade, Ride, Teenage Fanclub, Super Furry Animals, The Coral, Spiritualized, Beachwood Sparks, Wilco and The Sadies.

Does coming from The Lakes shape your music at all? There’s a mystical quality about the area – does that channel itself into your music?

The Lakes is a a truly stunning place and its hard not to be inspired by it, consciously or otherwise. It was a conscious effort to try and reflect its eeriness and isolation as well as its beauty. Notwithstanding the weather, we do see a strange connection between the west coast/Laurel Canyon scene and our Lakes surroundings, no matter how tenuous.

There is a bit of a new psych movement at the moment. Are you mates with any of the other bands – who do you admire?

Yes there is. I sometimes struggle to identify true psychedelia in its many forms now, but I hear it in all sorts of great bands who are around at the moment such as Real Estate, War on Drugs, The Go, Beachwood Sparks, My Drug Hell, The Sufis, the irrepressible Olivia Tremor Control (RIP Bill Doss) and Circulatory System who continue to push on into infinity, The Paperhead, Allah-Las, White Fence and Tame Impala.

We would consider ourselves as friends of some truly wonderful bands kicking around right now, including Øyvind Holm’s Deleted Waveform Gatherings and Sugarfoot, The Lucid Dream, The Wellgreen, The Junipers, El Goodo, The See See, The Time & Space Machine, Beaulieu Porch and The Red Sands.

Which track on On Sunset Lake are you most proud of?

We are proud of all of the songs on the album, but probably feel that Music Man and See You In The Morning best encapsulate what we were trying to achieve.

How long was the album in the making?

The album is a culmination of the best songs written during the lifespan of the band to that point, all of which blended nicely together into what we hope is a good, coherent representation of what we are about.

What plans have you got for 2013? Touring? new material?

2013 is going to be a busy year. As well as releasing On Sunset Lake and all that goes with it, we are putting the finishing touches to our second album which could be coming out later this year (like minded labels, please get in touch!). Having learned a lot from recording and mixing On Sunset Lake, all of which we did ourselves, we think that our second album will go one step nearer to fulfilling our vision. Ideally we are looking to play as many shows as we can throughout the year in the UK and Europe although definitive plans have yet to be put in place.

Who is the most under rated band of the 80s/90s?

We would all answer that differently, and I guess it depends whether it means commercially or critically under-rated. I (Craig) could write a list as long as my arm which would probably be topped by the Olivia Tremor Control.

Are you Cotton Mather fans?

Absolutely! You’ve rumbled us. Kontiki is a huge favourite of some members of the band and in the humble opinion of some, Ok then, one member, is one of the finest albums ever put to disc.


Rolling Stones Week – a pilgrimage to the home of ‘Exile on Main Street’ – Nellcote in France

By Stefano on November 27th, 2012

Apparently some seventy something geezers are playing the O2 this week. Their first show on Sunday was according to our spies, really rather good. So to celebrate the Stones we have already brought you Mick Jagger’s top ten crimes against fashion and the top five under rated Stones albums. Here Stones uber fan Victoria Shortt (who even named her company after a Stones track) goes on a pilgrimage to Nellcote – the legendary villa in the south of France where the band recorded their seismic double album Exile On Main Street

My obsession with Nellcote began after reading Robert Greenfields, “Exile on Main Street: A Season in Hell with the Rolling Stones”. This book tells the story of the shocking, decadent, madness behind the making of the seminal double album.

The recording took place during the blazing-hot summer of 1971 in the basement of the Keith Richards’ owned palatial mansion, Nellcote.  The book freezes forever in time a moment when the Stones and their counterculture audience found themselves at a crossroads. The author was at the time a groundbreaking music journalist and he was there to witness the debauchery night after night for weeks on end of wives, girlfriends and a crew of assorted hangers-on smoking marijuana and hashish, snorting cocaine and injecting themselves with heroin, whilst the Stones descended like coal miners to the infamous dank, humid basement to lay down tracks.

As the Stones were writing the songs that eventually made up “Exile”, a variety of celebrities, among them John and Yoko Ono and Gram Parsons, descended on the villa, and so did a sinister band of local drug dealers known to one and all as “les cowboys”. While the work of recording any album is rarely joyful and the Stones themselves were already known to be perfectionists in the studio, the process that brought “Exile on Main Street” into the world became a display of extreme group dynamics unparalleled even in their own tortured history. Literally and figuratively, this was a record made in hell.

Now when you put it like that how could you not become obsessed?! As a lifelong fan of the intense relationship between Keith and his common-law wife Miss Anita Pallenberg the book is a treat as it documents their crazed reign as the King and Queen of Nellcote.

A couple of years back my enthusiasm was ignited once again when Dominique Tarle’s beautiful photos of Nelocote and its inhabitants were exhibited in London. His photos were hypnotising. There was Anita in all her lithe, European glory holding court with a young Marlon on her hip – the coolest Mother I’ve ever seen (excusing all her very naughty habits), Jagger sweating and pouting in the sweltering heat, Richards stretched out playing guitar in front of a huge fireplace, dwarfing Anita who sits at his feet. The photos are a visual feast for any Stones fan.

When planning our wedding I knew first off I wanted to hire a Villa for the wedding and invite all our friends. Which, is exactly what we did (see here) and also to convince my bloke we should visit Nellcote on our honeymoon. Well one of the skills imparted to me from God is persuasion and so my campaign began until he conceded.

Once we decided to do it we decided to do it in style so we hired an Alfa Romeo Spider Duetto from Rent a Car Classic.

So with a car promising to be an “Italian answer to the swinging London madness, it is the “Dolce Vita”! Even if the Spider Duetto is not in Fellini’s movie and will stay forever Dustin Hoffman’s car in “The Graduate”, the Spider Duetto incarnates wonderfully this “sweet life”, mixing classical style and unbridled creativity.” Oh you may laugh at the pigeon English but doesn’t it sound like fun?

On arrival on Nellcote (it’s now owned by a Russian businessman) – it is hidden down a road close to the sea but so easy to miss (and we did, several times), we saw a van just starting up to come out. I ran up to the man and begged him to let me in to take closer pictures. I explained I was a major Stones fan and he laughed and waved me through but indicated I should go no further than the lawn. I did as I was told. I then came back through the gates, he left and then like a sign from God the gates opened again!I lit up like a lightbulb but my bloke said no and now being a wifey I had to obey. He explained the consequences for trespass in France were grave and I had to settle for a few cheeky behind the gates shots.

However, to see Nellcote in all its glory you really need to see from the sea so the next day we headed down to the beach at Villefrance and worked out that we could swim around the headland to view it properly. I have never moved so fast. Clothes off, into the sea and bombed around the headland. I could see my bloke laughing on the beach. I didn’t care because as soon as I got around the headland and saw the balcony that Keith Richards had sat on and strummed his guitar while looking out to see it was all so worth it. Sad as it sounds it was the closest thing to a spiritual experience without actually being one that I’ve ever had. A moment in time suspended just for me to look at and gaze in awe.

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