Tag Archives: Peter Gabriel

The Best of 2013

So, where does a year go? As we march tiredly towards the season of the Santa I offer below my year in music. Rather than doing a top ten this year it’s a chronology of the new music that crossed my radar. I struggle with lists by preference as I tend to appreciate the latest discovery or release more (a bit like having children!). In some cases they actually raised their heads during different months, sometimes in response to gigs and sometimes because I found them on This Is My Jam, which is one of the best places to find new bands and rediscover songs long forgotten. Hopefully the You Tube links will be stable for a little while but catch them while you can and my apologies for any regional restrictions encountered. Take your time, it’s all worth checking out.

 01 – Jan – La Busta Gialla  – Il Sogno Del Marinaio

Featuring Mike Watt, bass player with the Stooges, fIREhOSE, J Mascis and the marvelous Minutemen I caught Il Sogno Del Marinaio at a tiny venue in Leicester. A very individual album, more of a song cycle than a set of songs and with wide ranging references. I blogged a little about it here.

Partisan Song by Il Sogno del Marinaio

02 – Jan – Lady From Shanghai – Pere Ubu

I saw Pere Ubu many years ago in London and they are one of those mythic bands that drift into memory. I was surprised to see that they were playing at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham and not knowing their recent (and consistently strange) output over recent years was intrigued to take a look. David Thomas is an idiosyncratic artist. Well worth reading more about if you like your artists focused on the process and not the audience. Real grumpy as well. The gig was 90% new material form the current record.

414 Seconds by Pere Ubu

03 – Feb – m.b.v – My Bloody Valentine

A lot has been written about m.b.v. Snook out after 14 years in production via their website one Sunday night in February it was universally well received. But you know all this. If I was scoring them this would be in the upper reaches.

New You by My Bloody Valentine

04 – Feb – Push the Sky Away – NCATBS

Nick Cave is one of my favourite artists and this is a beautiful album. A fairly small set of Bad Seeds used on this but to great effect. An artist so far ahead of the pack and I suspect still heading to the top of game (to mix a few metaphors). This album features one the greatest opening song lyrics ever committed – see Mermaids. Bad man….

Jubilee Street by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

05 – Feb – AMOK – Atoms For Peace

Tom Yorke and his ‘super group’ Atoms for Peace. An expansion of his previous solo album and another diverse mix of styles and references. As with all super groups the end doesn’t always equal the sum of the parts but engaging and original non the less.

Amok by Atoms for Peace

06 – Feb – The Raven That Refused to Sing and Other Stories – Steven Wilson

An artist new to me and discovered through TIMJ. It’s probably been used but think contemporary Mike Oldfield. Keeping the prog flag flying.

The Raven That Refused to Sing by Steve Wilson

07 – March – Next Day – David Bowie

Another artist sneaking a new project out with ut warning after extended leave. He followed up ‘Where Are We Now’ with the brilliant ‘Next Day’ album. Still milking the franchise with an ‘extra’ edition somewhat cynically but the original song set was an impressive return. This was my favourite track and has a great video.

The Stars Are Out Tonight by David Bowie

08 – March – Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving

Thurston Moore, after quitting Sonic Youth and splitting with Kim Gordon released his contribution to the new projects from Lee Renaldo and Gordon. Still very ‘Youth’. Would have loved to see them live but the tour was cursory in the UK.

Burroughs by Chelsea Light Moving

09 – March – The Invisible Way – Low

Low first came to my attention when Robert Plant covered a couple of their songs and since then I’ve amassed quite a few of their many albums. They all have a different character and the Invisible Way is quite subtle in many ways. Managed to see them in November and they give good gig. Their mastery of the quite / loud dynamic is black belt standard.

Plastic Cup by Low

10 – May – More Light – Primal Scream

I played this album to death when it came out. A massive double album with some impressive material. The song below is probably one of the more low key tracks but the mixed up second half really makes it work. The album also featured a slightly cleaned up version of the Grinderman ‘Worm Tamer’ track which was a surprise.

River of Pain by Primal Scream

11 – June – Tomorrows Harvest – Boards of Canada

One of those bands I had heard about but not really experimented with. In many ways they have become a softer experience and I prefer the earlier ‘left field’ albums. Still an interesting record when taken at the appropriate time.

Reach for the Dead by Boards of Canada

12 – July – Peace, Love & Sympathy – Six By.Seven

A new Six By.Seven album from Chris Olley. I know Chris a little bit and he is a committed and prolific artist. Along with his solo and electro beat music he got the band back together with a brilliant and dynamic new drummer for this album. Their homecoming gig in Nottingham was huge and really enjoyable. More about that here including a live version of this track.

Sympathy by Six By.Seven

13 – July – Slow Focus – Fuck Buttons

Like the Boards of Canada I was encouraged to try this record. Sonic terrorists with flashing lights. Unfortunately I missed their local gig but I’ve very much enjoyed discovering their material.

Brainfreeze by Fuck Buttons

14 – July – The Big Dream – David Lynch

Just incredible. David Lynch makes unique music. This is darker than Crazy Clown Time and features Lynch on some very distorted guitar and heavily processed vocals. There is nothing else like it. He post released an additional track ‘Bad the John Boy’ which is so dark it sucks light out the room.

Star Dream Girl by David Lynch

15 – Aug – Civil Wars – Civil Wars

Nu-Folk but done well (think, completely unlike Mumford & Sons). It was however pretty much this track that I bought the album for. A cover of the Smashing Pumpkins epic, Disarm.

Disarm by Civil Wars

16 – Aug – The Bootleg Series Vol. 10 – Another Self Portrait (1969–1971) – Bob Dylan

The Bobcat came out with Vol 10 of the Bootleg series and a real curve ball choice. Featuring material from Self Portrait & New Morning as well as the Isle of Wight concert in 1970 it was probably the lowest down most Dylanites list of preferred re-issues. It does however sound fresh and alive and proves Dylans history isn’t just his presumed classics.

Pretty Saro by Bob Dylan

17 – Sept – And I’ll Scratch Yours – Various – Peter Gabriel

Completing his ‘Scratch my Back’ project, this compilation of Gabriel songs features a number of artists covering his songs. A mixed bag but with some highlights. This being the highest even before the poignancy of Lou’s demise.

Solsbury Hill – Lou Reed

18– Sept – Dream River – Bill Callahan

Another highlight. I became aware of Bill/Smog through I Break Horses a couple of years ago. His album though is very high up the list of memorable 2013 issues. Lyrically and musically individual. Another sadly brief number of UK shows, maybe next time.

Javelin UnLanding by Bill Callahan

19 – Sept – Man & Myth – Roy Harper

And another artist steeping out of retirement with a solid return. I was never the biggest Harper fan but he does have moments of genius. Unfortunately his year went downhill but the jury is still out.

The Exile by Roy Harper

20 – Oct – Lightning Bolt – Pearl Jam

Eddie and the Lightening Rods flashing around again. Not peak era Pearl Jam but good for a blast. Maybe they are just too big now.

Sirens by Pearl Jam

21 – Oct – Last Night on Earth – Lee Ranaldo & the Dust

More ex-Sonic Youth output. Of all of them this is my favourite and it’s been hammered in the car. With Youth drummer Steve Shelly included it has some huge songs and great guitar work outs. Another band very high on the ‘wltm’ list.

The Rising Tide by Lee Ranaldo & the Dust

22 – Oct – Birmingham (Live) – Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

As a long standing fan of Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel I don’t know why I missed the live shows but at least the double album release of Human Menagerie & Psychomodo turned out well. Exhuberant performances of some timeless songs.

Tumbling Down by Steve Harley & Cockney Rebel

23 – Nov – Sweet Summer Sun, Hyde Park 2013 – Rolling Stones

Yep. The Stones got it back together and they are still breathing and on good form. I wasn’t there. I don’t like crowds…..

Miss You by the Rolling Stones

24 – Dec – Live from KCRW – NCATBS

A possibly opportunistic live release of some material from Push The Sky Away and a few other tracks. However, its completely brilliant, especially Higgs Boson Blues (absolutely the best song of the year) and an evil version of Jack The Ripper.

Mercy Seat by Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

25 – Dec – Live from the Cellar Door – Neil Young

Cheating slightly here because at the time of writing this hasn’t been released. I have heard about half of it though and I’m really looking forward to it.

Cinnamon Girl by Neil Young

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Top Ten Albums 2011

Please forgive this wilful seasonal predictability, but I’m on a mission to give a shout to my Top Ten Albums of 2011. Yes, I know there are a thousand and one top tens in the culture mag & tabs this time of year. I will deviate slightly from the norm in that I don’t have ten and I’m not rating them. Playing albums is no game of chance. They need to fit the moment and the mood, and more importantly be to hand when you need them. Far more has been than will be in my attentive lifetime so I’m sure I have played more old music than I have recent. But despite the constant callings of Bob, Pink, Neil & Jimi there has been plenty to rock the lobes.

So, marching on, in no particular order, here’s my favourite moments from 2011……………………..

REM – Collapse Into Now

The bands last studio album. I’ve been a fanboy of the band since seeing them on the Oxford Road Show singing So. Central Rain in 1984. It’s a little sad that they have stopped the box car rolling but I’m sure they will all produce more music worth following.

This is the best song from the album. A slow burner with a beautiful Stipe vocal.

Peter Gabriel – New Blood

The ‘Scratch My Back’ & ‘New Blood’ projects by PG both received some negative fan feedback. This was totally undeserved. PG has always stepped up to new plates and whether its other artists songs or revisits of his own he has such a stunning and emotive voice, and talent for song writing, that you can’t ignore his output. I saw the 3D show of the ‘New Blood’ performance and it raised some neck hair. I hope we get the promised ‘I’ll Scratch Yours’ album with some great covers of PG’s songs by the great & the good. Lou Reeds ‘Solsbury Hill’ is a great start.

Here’s a brilliant song from the Jools Holland show…

J Mascis – Several Shades of Why

The best guitarist in world. Don’t argue, it’s true. His first properly named solo album (except the Amma record & ‘Martin and Me’) and a real doozie. Great songs, amazing playing. I had a ticket to see J & the Fog but it was cancelled. There aren’t enough people who appreciate this man. Pay attention to this…

I Break Horses – Hearts

Getting close to my favourite album. Maria & Fredrik from Sweden released their debut album on Bella Union mid year. Its an absolute joy of stargazzy electropop and ambience. I hope they do a more pronounced tour of the UK in 2012.

Lanterns On The Lake – Gracious Tide, Take Me Home

Another Bella Union band but this time from Newcastle. I saw them in the Bodega and had to buy the album. Looking forward to more from them in the future.

Kate Bush – 50 Words For Snow

As a male person of a certain age and socio/cultural background I am born’n’breed to give Kate my attention. Having watched ‘Wuthering Heights’ on TOTP back in my youth I’ll twitch to all new notes she drops. ‘Directors Cut’ was good and the new version of ‘The Red Shoes’ was worth the purchase, but to have a new-new album so soon after was a big surprise. It’s such an amazing album with incredible side shows and a stunning main act. Elton’s contribution has to be his best vocal in years and Stephen Fry’s alliteration and verbosity is engrossing and clever. Above all, Kate singing about her dreaming of humping a snowman and waking up with wet sheets & the snow flake animism of the opening song are worth the buy in.

This is a fan video of the song ‘Snowed In At Wheeler Street’.A  great effort by someone who cares.

Tom Waits – Bad Like Me

Anything that Tom puts out is worth some time. 8 years since the ‘Mule Variations’ with ‘Orphans’ & ‘Glitter & Doom’ inbetween. A brilliant studio album with some of the best musicians playing along. The duet with Keef and the excellent Marc Ribot on guitar. Tom stays at the top of my bucket list of artists to see.

One of the best lyricists writting words like “what sounded like fireworks turned out to be just what it was…” No one else comes close to Tom.

David Lynch – Crazy Clown Time

There is so little to say about this. David Lynch is simply an artist who is in the enviable position od doing pretty much what he wants. Make a movie on betamax, open a night club, have prom party. ‘Crazy Clown Time’ is completly original, a little bit funny and totally scary. It’s jostling for No1 on here and is mental enough to get the top slot.

If you didnt know, DL is into TM. That probably has something to do with this. Listen carefully for the link between happiness and good dental hygiene.

John Martyn – Heaven & Earth

John’s postumous album. Part complete when he moved on and completed by friends. It’s not quiet there with is great albums but it has a wonderful mumbling beauty that no one else could ever achieve. I saw him live maybe half a dozen times and he was a uniquely talented artist. Phil Collins contribution is good and brings back memories of ‘Grace & Danger’.

Radiohead – King of Limbs

Predictable. Radiohead can do no wrong. I’ll buy thier extreme product versions for random amounts of money and indulge the albums, remixes, versions, YouTube specials etc etc. Because they are good, unlike Coldplop, U-aswell, Snowshovell etal.

Thom can’t even dance which is admirable…..

Bon Iver – Bon Iver

The second album by Justin Vernon owes a lot I think to Peter Gabriel. Really interesting production, a bit themeic/conceptual with some moments of elation amongst the angst. PG covered one of his songs on ‘Scratch’ and I hope he returns the favour on ‘Yours’.

…..and finally…………………………..

JTP – Last of the Country Gentlemen

I guess he’s my No#1. I saw him live twice. It’s not the happiest record ever made. But there are so few other things it can be compared with. The playing is exemplary, the lyrics are so patently pawed over endlessly, the performance is dragged out from the bottom of a tainted soul. When he plays he breaks up the pain with blue jokes and prat falls, but nothing distracts from the huge talent that makes this happen. This is Josh T. Pearson on the shores of the Rivers of Babylon…..

So there you go.

My musical wishes for 2012 are …..

  • Something new from David Bowie (please, please, please….)
  • A Metal album from Josh T Pearson
  • A tour from I Break Horses
  • Finding the cash to see Tom Waits live if he plays ever…..
  • A new Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds record
  • An album from Liz Fraser
  • The lost/last Sparklehorse album gets released
  • X-Factor gets cancelled

Happy new ears tweeps……

A4

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My Dad

Yesterday, on the 27th of October 2011 I had to say good bye to my Dad. He passed away on the 18th of October at about 6.10am at the George Elliott Hospital in Nuneaton. I pulled into the car park at the hospital at 6.20am. I missed him by 10 mins. I’m usually early for everything.

He had been unwell for a little over a month. On the 11th of September my Mum and I took him to see his consultant. He was admitted very promptly and spent two weeks in the Coronary Care Unit at the George Elliott. The care and attention both in a medical and nursing capacity provided in the ward was exemplary. It was very obvious that he was not well and given his cardiac history and the conversions we had during this time, it was a given that we all knew the possible outcome.

After the first two weeks his condition stabilised as best as could be expected and he was moved to another ward. All I can say here is that the experience of the CCU was not indicative of the standards across the hospital. However, for better or for worse he was allowed to return home on the 14th. I didn’t make it to see him that weekend, catching up on my own domestic life. I did speak to him though and I know he was happy to be out of hospital. We arranged to meet later in the week to discuss ‘business’. My mum tells me how he wasn’t chasing books or interested in television, but enjoyed watching the birds feed and the sun rise.

On the Monday night he became unwell and was taken back to the CCU. Then he was gone.

Over the past week me and my Mum have made the arrangements. My Dad loved golf and had many friends at Nuneaton Golf Club. In the past he was both Captain & President of the Club and I can only thank the huge number of people who have offered condolences and support since Dads passing. We hope to plant a tree on the course in the near future in honour of my Dad. I know he would like that.

With all of the other matters to attend to I did manage to write the following for the Order of Service It explains a few things.

“When my father left school he worked on Cannock Chase with the Forestry Commission. He then decided to join the RAF. He wanted to fly. As with all things he did he sailed through the induction. In the final stages he took the medical examination and it was then that he discovered he had a defective heart valve. The RAF would not allow someone with this condition in the fast jets, so despite being offered a good position on the ground he decided to pursue a career in education. He went on to Saltley College in Birmingham and whilst studying decided to specialise in the teaching of reading.

As many here will know his career in education was long and distinguished. My father was always motivated by his capacity to care and do his job to the best of his ability and not by personal ambition.

He chose to work in the areas of special educational needs and in his varied career he helped many children and adults to read.

Throughout his life he was aware that the condition that the RAF had identified would not go away.

In 1980 whilst playing golf he collapsed. Shortly afterwards he was offered the chance to have an operation that might prolong his life. The procedure was relatively new but at the time it was the only option to consider. That year he bought my Christmas presents six months early.

But, thanks to the NHS and the commitment of his doctors over many years, my father survived for a further 31 years. He often said he had two birthdays, both being equally important.

There are many conditions of the heart that affect people both here and around the world. The British Heart Foundation supports research into new treatments for patients and their work has prolonged the life of many and is shared without commercial interest. They continue their endeavours through charitable contributions, often made by survivors of heart disease and their families.

Please consider donating something in honour of my father. You can donate now or later through W. Smith & Sons or you can donate online here.

www.justgiving.com/Aubrey-Nicholls

I miss my Dad but I was lucky to know him for a long time. Please help other children to know their parents by supporting this vital charity.”

I would also like to thank the many people from my Dad’s professional career who have sent their wishes and memories.

Here is a letter from a former colleague that we received.

“Aubrey’s working life was bound up in the development of children’s literacy. He really cared about finding ways to improve a child’s chances to become a better reader, a better writer.

He was head of Warwickshire Reading Service for a substantial number of years, building it up – incidentally through its several name-changes! – from a small core service into a significant County organisation eventually comprising four separate sub-teams, North, South, East and Central Warwickshire. His leadership was all the better from having previously served as a member of the original Service, before taking it over himself; this early experience gave him the insight to guide his team members with real understanding. He truly knew what was involved in their work, and was always there to give a steer when needed. But furthermore, he had the skill to perceive the individual abilities in his staff, and would allow them to develop their ideas, to the overall benefit of his organisation. His work took him into many, many schools in the County, where he became a familiar and helpful figure. He was both kind and effective in his role.

At different times, he also combined that work with services to Adult Literacy, in an era when such support was in its pioneering days.

In addition, for many years he gave his time and his very competent financial management skills to the task of building and maintaining NASEN: the National Association for Special Educational Needs, serving on their management board in the capacity of Treasurer.

And never one to walk away from the support of literacy development, for several years towards the end of his career he organised a series of conferences for teachers, in collaboration with Leicester University School of Education.”

My Dad helped start NARE (now known as NASEN), organisations that have helped to develop reading skills for children and adults affected by illiteracy. My early education was fairly ‘freestyle’ and I remember my dad spend a lot of time helping me develop my reading ability. But more than anything he taught me to seek knowledge and think for myself.

This is one to my favourite stories. In that brief period of time between being turned down by the RAF on medical grounds and prior to starting at Saltley College my Dad worked on a weight station for British Waterways. It was here that when asking a bargeman to sign for his load he saw the man use a ‘mark’. He couldn’t read or write so he used a sign. It was this one experience that informed his whole exemplary career. As I’ve said above, he was motivated by his capacity to care. An increasingly rare capacity.

Thank you to the many people who attended my Dad’s funeral and who have called and have sent messages of support to my mum. We will both miss my dad more than we can explain. He was a wonderful man, a true and honest gentleman, a doting grandfather and my only amazing dad.

I have listened to this several times in the last few weeks.

Thanks also to Revd Clive Jones for his contribution, W. Smith & Sons of Nuneaton for their efficiency and kindeness, Nuneaton Golf Club and especially the President, Mr Frank Parker for his contribution, my sister-in-law Lynette for singing, and my wonderful wife and children for being here. Most of all, my mum for always being there for my Dad all the way to the end.

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After Us

Furthering my recent delve into the attic of ancient artwork, I found this little oddity. This is from 1992 and is a response to Peter Gabriel’s ‘US’ album. I have been a PG fanboy from Solsbury Hill and back to Genesis ‘I Know What I Like’. I loved his lyrics and particularly when his fourth solo album came out I built strange & complicated mythologies for the songs in my head.
I have detailed in a previous post how affecting his live show for ‘SO’ was. When the ‘US’ album was due I remember setting an alarm to catch the first play of ‘Digging in the Dirt’ on the radio.
The ‘US’ album is an emotional affair which appealed to me at the time on any number of empathetic levels.

I made this set of illustrations using various drawn, collaged, photocopied & hand tinted techniques. This includes Nescafe, my tint of choice at the time which is not as fugituve as you might imagine!

In retrospect it is a little obvious and narrative, but I still quite like it as mark of its time. There are some drawn elements that work well, but its probably best seen with a knowledge of the album. I particularly like the folio case made for the set, and the only signs of aging seem to be the ones I built in.

Here’s the original video for ‘Digging in the Dirt’. It’s reminded me that a re-look at ‘Zed and Two Noughts’ might be in order.

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