He was the engine room of the only band that mattered and his beats have been sampled almost as much as those of James Browns' funky drummer, Clyde Stubblefield. Happy 60th birthday to the great Topper Headon.
Were I not a little long in the tooth to use
such an expression, I might well have described 'Hermits on Holiday' by Drinks as being my latest jam. Drinks is a collaboration between Tim Presley of White Fence and the great Cate Le Bon, both of whom have featured on these pages in the past. 'Hermits on Holiday' is the title track of their debut LP, due for release at the end of August. This is the stuff.
Bob Dylan put in a mighty fine performance of
'The Night We Called It a Day' on the
penultimate David Letterman show last week,
despite looking profoundly uncomfortable for
every single second that he wasn't singing. When Bob's on the telly you never quite know what
you're going to get. I wouldn't have him any
Here are a couple of Bob's previous appearances on the
box from a few years back, each of them a triumph. Many happy returns of the day
Mr Dylan. See you in October.
The great Abdullah Ibrahim walked unannounced
onto the stage, made himself comfortable at
the piano and plunged straight into a totally
engrossing 25 minute, semi-improvised piece, which touched on several familiar phrases and motifs from his huge canon.
He was then joined by two excellent musicians who between them played double
bass & cello and a
selection of wind instruments, for a series
of more structured tunes, all conducted by Mr Ibrahim's nods, yelps and smiles. The music, ostensibly jazz though veering on occasion towards classical, was often contemplative, sometimes playful and always utterly spellbinding. When the trio took their final bows at the end of the show, I'm sure I wasn't alone at being astonished to find that 90 minutes had passed in the blink of an eye. My seat was literally front and centre. I was so close, that the music I heard was acoustic and came straight from the instruments, not through the theatre's sound system. It's unlikely that Mr Ibrahim will pass this way again and it was a distinct privilege to be in the audience for what was an unforgettable evening.
I bought my first Abdullah Ibrahim albums in
the mid-1980's and probably have about a
dozen now, though these few barely scratch
the surface of this giant of music's vast catalogue.
Here are a couple of my early favourites.
Steve Lamacq concluded his show on 6Music this evening with the sad news that Colin Dredd (aka Colin Masters), bassist with The Newtown Neurotics from 1978 to 1988, passed away earlier today. There are those who know the band's catalogue, and indeed the people involved, far better than I, though I was lucky enough to see the Neurotics a couple of times in the mid-80's and still own one or two of their records.
'Airstrip One' was a personal favourite at the time and is invariably the first tune that comes to mind when I think of the band, and the aptly titled 'This Fragile Life' was added to singer Steve Drewett's moving Facebook tribute to Colin.
Us Dylan types are getting more than a little excited about His Nibs' upcoming performance on Tuesday's penultimate David Letterman show. Will he give us a moving 'Stay With Me' or a perhaps inappropriate 'Long and Wasted Years'? A sublime 'Autumn Leaves' or a predictable 'Forever Young'? All these titles and more have been mentioned in dispatches since Bob's appearance was announced 24 hours ago. Whatever he chooses to play, it will have to go some to top 'Take One Last Look', a stunning new song premiered by Tom Waits on Friday's show.
Life is getting loud in our neck of the woods. Standing in the garden for 10 minutes earlier today I heard a recently returned Cuckoo sounding off a couple of fields away, admired the shrieking aerobatics of a dozen swooping, rolling Swifts overhead and watched an equal number of screaming Starlings dripping off of the coconut shell fat feeders as they squabbled to gather food for their young. A couple of the youngsters were clearly hungry and impatient though, and camped out close to the noisy throng in the garden to ensure they had first dibs at whatever treats Ma & Pa were able to grab.
Produced by the first lady of Jamaican
reggae Sonia Pottinger, this is Johnny & the
Attractions in 1968 with their Rocksteady
reading of the 1963 Ruby & the Romantics
tune, 'Young Wings Can Fly'.
Imagine you kept all your toys and comics
from when you were a kid and never threw away
any of your books or magazines when you were
a teenager. Then you formed one of the most
influential bands of the late 20th
Century and kept souvenirs of that and all
your subsequent adventures too. That's
exactly what Mick Jones did and from time to
time he displays his vast personal collection
under the banner, The Rock'n'Roll Public
I've been fortunate enough to browse through
Mick's fascinating collection twice, both several
years ago, firstly in Ladbroke Grove and
later in Norwich. Now the Rock'n'Roll Public
Library is opening its doors once again, this
time in Venice! To coincide with the event,
Mick Jones is releasing a six track mini-album of atmospheric instrumentals entitled
'Ex Libris'. Excellent it is too. Read more
about the whole darned thing here.
It's been one of those weeks. A ton of great looking posts have turned up on my sidebar in the past seven days and i've barely had a spare moment to glance at any of them. I'll try to rectify that to some extent after the weekend, though by then of course, the backlog will have become even greater. One post I did find time to enjoy was over at 27 Leggies (here) and featured several fascinating covers of the old Jim Reeves hit, 'He'll Have to Go'. My own favourite version of the song wasn't among them though. David Isaacs' 1969 single, produced by Lee Perry, can be found on the splendid 1998 compilation 'The Complete UK Upsetter Singles Collection Volume 1'. Check out those otherworldly backing vocals.
Hear another unlikely country cover by David Isaacs in an earlier edition of Saturday Scratch (here).
One Sunday morning in 1965, in the days when
you could still do that kind of thing, Dad
and I wandered along Downing Street and he
took a couple of photos of me outside Number
10. Despite voting in every General Election,
Dad never once discussed party politics with
me when I was growing up. His main concern
was to teach me the distinctions between
right and wrong, thus enabling me to decide
for myself between left and right when the
If you'd have told me six months ago that one
of my favourite albums of the year would be
by Idlewild, I would probably have shot you
my best withering stare. I own nothing but a
couple of early singles by the band and the bulk of
their career has passed me by completely.
'Everything Ever Written', though, is an
excellent, mature piece of work that I would
wholeheartedly recommend to everyone. Here, on decision day for us in
the UK, is 'So Many Things to Decide'.
Nick Drake covers tend to fall into one of
two categories - brave stabs or ill-advised,
best forgotten travesties. Walt Mink's
pumped-up bash through 'Pink Moon', however,
is an interesting interpretation and was a
bit of a personal favourite when it appeared on their
debut LP, 'Miss Happiness', back in 1992.
Walt Mink came together in Minnesota,
straight out of collage, in 1989, splitting 8
years and 4 studio albums later. Original
drummer Joey Waronker went on to work with a
veritable who's who of big music names, such
as Paul McCartney, REM, Johnny Cash, Thom
Yorke, Beck and Richard Thompson.