Monday, 21 August 2017

Thanks - 10 years of the blog

Hi

Thank you all for visiting my little blog where I get to review, interview, reminisce, compile playlists and generally write about bands, artists and music I enjoy. I have even recorded a few podcasts! I need to try and find the time to do so again.

I have now been writing blogs for 10-years! Things got off to a very slow start over the first few years but I then began to write more frequently (and learn how to insert pictures, videos and links!) and people began to visit the blog regularly - some have even subscribed!

The blog has now received over 333,000 page views in 10-years, with a very large chunk of those views coming in the last few years. Regular content has definitely encouraged repeat visits. While I really write for my own enjoyment, it is nice to know that my blogs are being read and appreciated.

So thanks, I hope I might have turned you on to some bands, artists, discoveries and great music.

A lot has changed in the last 10-years; it's been nice to look back. Personally, the major change for me is that I now have 2 daughters. So in that sense the blog has taken on a whole new meaning - maybe one day as teenagers they will sit down and read some of my blogs and discover some of the music I have enjoyed.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 of my favourite blogs from 10-years of Everything Flows. Will I still be writing in 2027?!

Incidentally - the list doesn't include my all-time top blog in terms of stats which is on an incredible mix by The Man In Blue on Daft Punk - probably because it lists a lot of Daft Punk songs so it gets picked up in google searches!!!! It's a great mix so check it out.

1. Paul McCartney at Hampden Park
Ah the days where I could go out drinking all day and see a genuine legend with great friends. The sun shone, we drank, we sung and had one of my best ever experiences at a show - even though it was at Hampden! I will always remember this day and show.

Macca in action at Hampden

2. Last Night From Glasgow launch
So I co-founded a record label last year and we've done rather well! The launch party was exceptionally exciting and the friendly and appreciative audience and atmosphere was truly special. It has been quite an adventure - check the website www.lastnightfromglasgow.com

Stephen Solo cast a spell over the room

3. TeenCanteen present The Girl Effect and the review
My sister did something rather special to celebrate her 30th birthday. I interviewed her (it was nice to catch up!) and then reviewed the show which raised an exceptional amount of money and awareness for Scottish Womens Aid. Bands and artists including Duglas T Stewart, Norman Blake, Eugene Kelly, The Spook School and Machines In Heaven came together to play girl group covers - awesome!

A very happy sister

4. Remember Remember at Bar Brel 
My wife and I sat in the front row at Bar Brel and witnessed a staggering show by Remember Remember. I could have stretched a leg and pressed a couple of Graeme Ronald's effects pedals I was that close. Instead I just sat open mouthed at the way Graeme and his 6 piece band conjoured up beautiful soundscapes - they really took us on a journey and it was very memorable in such an intimate venue.

Remember Remember - Graeme Donald

5. Stone Roses at Heaton Park and Stone Roses in Amsterdam 
I never thought I would get to see them live. In 2012 I caught them twice in quick succession and both shows were very memorable for different reasons. The Sunday at Heaton Park was mind blowing, a real celebration of the Roses music.


6. Sonny Marvello at Rowardennan Youth Hostel
Where and when did I find the energy to manage a band and co-ordinate a mini-festival at a youth hostel on the banks of Loch Lomond? Oh yeah, before kids. Well our eldest was a few months old and I was kindly allowed out for the night!

This felt like a real achievement; bringing together some great people to watch great bands and artists. As Marty McFly would say - you put your mind to it and you can accomplish anything.



7. Churches/Chrvches at the Art School 
I've seen loads of great shows by unsigned bands and heard all kinds of rumours about labels coming up to scout, but never in all my gig going years have I experienced anything like I did at the first official show by Chvrches....or Churches as they were then known. The buzz was enormous, almost as big as their shiny pop tunes, they delivered and then some.



8. Echo and the Bunnymen at The Concert Hall 
Memorable for not all the right reasons as Ian McCulloch had a bit of a melt down and stormed off the stage. But hey, that is rock n roll.

I really enjoyed reading this blog again and my line about the fact that Coldplay would never do something like this! Of course they wouldn't and that is one of the reasons the Bunnymen and McCulloch have lasted the test of time. They are special, unique and unpredictable.



9. Ronnie Spector 
I have been fortunate to catch many legends from the 60's. Macca, Wilson, Arthur Lee, Martha Reeves (I have even danced on stage with her), Marlena Shaw, The Who, Neil Young..... but this was pretty special. What a voice!



10. Futuristic Retro Champions at Mono 
DIY pop at its best as the FRC's held a mini-festival in Mono that ended with Samba Ya Bamba playing! Their single had artwork by Martin Creed and he turned up to play with his band, Eugene Kelly played, the FRC's blasted out infectious pop music and then we danced like crazy to Samba Ya Bamba. A special night and again, as Marty McFly once said you put your mind to it and you can accomplish anything.



Saturday, 19 August 2017

Stephen Solo at La Chunky


I wasn't intending to write a blog on Stephen Solo's album launch party at La Chunky Studio in the Hidden Lane. I had already waxed lyrically about Pii 2 in my previous blog. However, there was a special magic in the air of Finnieston last night and I wanted to try and capture in a blog.

The venue helped - turning off the West End of Argyle Street down a cobbled lane that leads to all kinds of independent and arty studios and offices, you go to the far left top corner and come across La Chunky Studio.

Owner Ronan Breslin has a long association with Stephen and has also worked with a number of other LNFG artists. Pii 2 is a rather unique album, so we wanted to launch it in a rather unique place, Ronan was the perfect host, La Chunky the perfect setting.

You enter through the studio control room, a huge vintage desk dominates the right hand side, a sofa, old equipment and memorabilia are on the other side. The walls are decorated with releases from all kinds of Scottish bands and artists that have worked there.

You then enter the live room, which doubled as the ticket office, cloakroom and bar (through a raffle system) and hang out area. But the coolest part of La Chunky is probably the huge back room over 2 levels. Ronan and his team had cleared amps and equipment to allow for a 50 capacity venue. So we had people sitting on stairs, watching from 2 'balconies' and people literally in front of Stephen. Old retro lamps were the stage lights, there was a nice homely and relaxed feel.


There was a mood for celebration - Stephen and LNFG had an album out - and Craig, a great friend and former band-mate of Stephen's had become a father earlier in the week.

The stage was set for a small band.....but Stephen Solo entered alone and proceeded to weave his magic over the crowd with his wonderful songs that he has recorded over the last few years.

Internet Song has been in my head all day, Freak sounded sublime, Secrets That You Keep is utterly gorgeous, Broken Record sounded insanely brilliant and made so much sense when played live. Crying Because melted hearts and Solo's between song banter ranged from In The Night Garden, to lack of sleep, to the break up of his aforementioned band and the death of David Bowie and Bruce Forsyth.


As yes Bowie, Solo played David Bowie Never Had To where he rhymes off a list of things that David Bowie Never Had To do - like take cat litter out, cancel his home entertainment package due to lack of money..... the chorus is just sublime.

It was a mesmerising solo performance with Stephen's voice rising and soaring with ease or dropping and falling - it won hearts. Impressive.

Solo then announced that his former band (Sonny Marvello) would be joining him for the second half of the show, so there was time to buy some more raffle tickets to win some more beer.


Sonny Marvello were Stephen, Mick (guitar), Craig (bass), Walker (keys) and Bryans (drums). You'll find their music on Spotify and iTunes and plenty about them in previous blogs down the years.

Last night they came together to help their friend create some of the magical songs he has created on his iPhone in a live environment. What a great job they did!

Think Strange was all lush and warm, LocoCoco was full of melodies and invention while No Pill For What I've Got was just jaw droopingly good. What a song, what a performance! It was great to hear the songs played by a band.

The band ended (at request) by rolling out an old Sonny Marvello song - unrehearsed - Fire Went Out is a real fave of mine and the closing section was truly spine tingling. It was great to see and hear the 5 friends playing together again - magical.

A special show in a special venue by a special talent.


Friday, 18 August 2017

Pii 2





2016 was a good year for albums, I had a number of contenders vying for the 'accolade' of my favourite album of the year - in the end it was Pii by Stephen Solo that won through. An eclectic eccentric album recorded on an iPhone 6 taking in sublime Albarn-esque melodies, Boards of Canada soundscapes, a song that was like a Limmy sketch, imagination and experiments.

Pii 2 has also been recorded completely on an iPhone and it is a psychedelic, melodic, imaginative, crazy, melancholic beauty.

Check it out for yourself on Spotify.

The freedom of being able to record on the hop, not having to book or finance a recording studio and having a supportive label that has a ready made audience and is as interested in the people they work with as the music they release, allows experimentation and creativity - something sadly lacking from a lot of music these days.

Songs were recorded in the work car park, the living room, the laundry cupboard and one - the stunning No Pill For What I've Got in the bath.


Other standouts for me include LocoCoco, the sublime Think Strange, the fragile Secrets You Keep and the glorious flowing Slipstream. Then the closing quartet of David Bowie Never Had To (more on this later), iPhone psychedelia on Can't Wait, the aforementioned No Pill For What I've Got and the beautiful touching Bye Bye Song featuring Stephen's son.


Pii was written around the birth of Stephen's first son, Pii 2 around the birth of his second. This isn't a pattern he sees continuing, but he did take a unique approach to recording the 'difficult' second album - recording that, ditching it and then writing and recording the joyous 3rd 'comeback' album.

The debut album was released on a USB credit card, the follow up is out today on a USB cassette tape! You can also download from iTunes or stream on Spotify. If you like it, then buy a super cool USB cassette via www.lastnightfromglasgow.com

Internet Song starts off with a mood of clever insanity before verging off into dreamy gorgeousness. Solo (real name Farrell) can seemingly pluck a melody from thin air and when the chorus comes in it can take you somewhere special.

Feel like I'm glowing
When you're downloading
Feel like I'm floating
When I'm uploading

How does he do it? LocoCoco captures attention immediately, the melody, the voice, the backing vocals, the hooks - it does all seem effortless. Check the switch into this section of the song - sensational!!!!!

I'm tired
From feeling that I got nobody to talk to
I'm wired
From punching the clock cause it never stops
It never stops at all


A psychedelic guitar riff picked out over lush warm synth ushers in Think Strange. It is a gem. All of Stephen Solo's material is interesting and imaginative, but when it all really comes together it is incredibly special.

For a fleeting second I think of the bands selling their souls without a hope in hell of producing anything as gorgeous at this....and I laugh.... cause this guy is producing something as good as this on his iPhone 6! I've just listened to it 4 times in a row.

It's hard to admit when you're wrong about somebody

A dreamer in love with the dark
Hoping it will never come back

Farrell's love of being able to freely experiment when he has a moment to himself with his phone is joyfully expressed throughout the album. Mini Metal Girl is one of those moments where you think what goes on in this guys head? But in a good way.


I mentioned that Secrets You Keep is a highlight; Stephen singing over an acoustic guitar with just the odd little synth bubbling in the background is just gorgeous. And when he harmonises with himself it is pure Beatles.


I love you more with every secret you keep
I love you more with every cut that goes deep

David Bowie Never Had To is madcap genius. Farrell takes us into his world by comparing it to David Bowie's. I laughed out loud on first listen and then promptly listened a further 6 times to appreciate the humour, imagination, reality, songwriting and melodies.

David Bowie never had to carry a washing machine up 3 flights of stairs
David Bowie never had to downgrade his home entertainment package because he's on a zero hours contract
David Bowie never had to consider using his keys as a weapon at a dodgy bus stop

Don't want my own universe
But I'd be happy in my own little world

The song has a great twist at the end where Bowie joins in the conversation from the other side. Just listen to this - please. It is genius.

Can't Wait is home made psychedelia and then Farrell introduces another one of those magical moments from 2-minutes onwards. Flowing melodies and harmonies - sheer beauty.

I have friends who I always trust when it comes to music. So when my friend Craig asked me if I had heard Stephen's song No Pill For What I've Got then I knew it was going to be special. And it is. Recorded from the bath (which you can hear at the start). It has a sleep, dreamy, melancholy vibe with a beautiful melody and soulful reflective lyrics.

The album closes with Solo playing ukulele and singing to his eldest son about the colours of the planets of the solar system. It is a captivating insight into how music plays such a part of his life and evidence of how he can just come up with ideas and melodies with ease.

Order the incredibly cool cassette USB album from the online store (click just the album) or head to iTunes to download or Spotify to stream. Enjoy.



Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Flaming Lips at Glasgow Barrowland Ballroom



L I F E   A F F I R M I N G

Ah the Barrowland roar, I don't hear it as often as I once did as corporate venues like the Academy and the ABC have infiltrated the Glasgow gig scene. The ABC isn't a bad venue....but the Academy is a soulless, shi**hole of a venue on the southern side of Glasgow that I only venture to when absolutely necessary. The fact that I haven't bought a ticket for The Charlatans, one of my all-time fave bands, in December speaks volumes. I hate the Academy, any band that books it over the Barrowland has a soulless or greedy booking agent.....or one that has never experienced the best venue in the world. Mix that with the best crowd and you have something unique.

Of course bands need to make money, but I think of the bands that have broken through over the last decade or so that haven't experienced the Barrowland Ballroom.... it is their loss.

On to Tuesday 15th August 2017, an incredible 13-years since The Flaming Lips had last played our fair city. Oh how they made up for lost time.

Opening with Race For The Prize in a blaze of technicolour glory, confetti cannons, lights and smoke, they poured their heart and soul into song and performance and they were matched by the crowd.



Yoshimi was next, singer Wayne Coyne stretched for the high notes, willed on by the Barras crowd who were behind him from the off. This 56-year old was riding a unicorn round the legendary ballroom by the third song in, his lysergic pop and vision for a show was being lapped up, audience and band were one.

There is nothing like a Barrowland roar. Any band lucky enough to experience it will never forget it, there were several tonight and The Flaming Lips were quick to acknowledge it, stating that this would go down as a legendary show.


There were plenty of reasons for the Glasgow crowd to be responding in voice; Coyne is a frontman who wears his heart on his sleeve and songs from the seminal Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi albums have melted hearts worldwide. Throw in acidic pop like the Yeah Yeah Yeah Song and new song How? amongst others with a light and stage show like no other then you had something truly remarkable and special taking place on a Tuesday night in Glasgow. This was no show, it was a happening, a celebration; punk, pop, acid....these freaks were out to party.

Their cover of Bowie's Space Oddity was one of many highlights with Coyne encased in an inflatable bubble for the start of the song before climbing out over the audience to a small stage in the middle. It was memorable and euphoric. The crowd were already on Coyne's side, now they were ready to go to war.



A Spoonful Weighs A Ton was nothing less than mesmerising but the encore was something else. A piano rendition of personal fave Waitin' For A Superman was heart wrenching but the closer of Do You Realize? brought tears to many eyes as people hugged friends and punched the air in life affirming delight.

What a special f**ked up band. You don't get 'em like that these days.




Thursday, 10 August 2017

Superstar by Sonic Youth

Cover of the month #28   Sonic Youth cover The Carpenters



Superstar and Yesterday Once More are songs I discovered when a split single by Sonic Youth and Redd Kross was released back in 1994, taken from The Carpenters tribute album If I Were A Carpenter.

Superstar is yet another cover of the month where I found that the original version of the song wasn't recorded by who I thought it was. The original version was released as Groupie (Superstar) by Delaney and Bonnie and I had never heard their version until I started researching and writing this blog.


The original title gives a lot away. This is a love song from a groupie to a superstar and it is pretty heartbreaking. She has been used, told that it was love, promised he would be back and reality and loneliness are kicking in. It is a beautifully written and performed song with gorgeous vocals. The chorus soars with great harmonies and horns kicking in.

The Carpenters version slows things right down to really emphasise the heartbreak in the song - especially the lines

Your guitar, it sounds so sweet and clear
But you're not really here, it's just the radio

The Carpenters version still has a soaring chorus, but you feel the heartbreak so much more, especially on the kiss off line; I love you, I really do. The strings that follow also bring a real sombre mood leading into Karen singing loneliness is such a sad affair.

It's beautiful, it is stunning and it is heartbreaking. There seems to be an extra oomph behind the second chorus and it is immediately repeated


On to Sonic Youth with Thurston Moore really sounding heartbroken. There is an effect on his voice that makes it sound a little psychedelic and the feedback used in the instrumental between the first chorus and the second verse definitely stamps Sonic Youth's mark on the song.

They (rightly) don't rip the song up and try to do anything outrageous, which, being Sonic Youth in 1994, is probably something you would have expected. They respect the song and it is interesting to hear it sung by a male - more of a fan boy than a groupie?


I'm going to include a second cover version of the month seeing as I discovered both of them at the same time. The Carpenters Yesterday Once More is a beautiful song, but it's a bit more MOR than Superstar. Karen Carpenter still pulls on the heart strings, but (at least for me) it doesn't have the raw feeling that Superstar delivers, it's a bit too clean cut. Even the live version below is just a bit too contained/restrained - if you get my meaning.


Redd Kross do a kind of punky karaoke version and just about get away with it. They also remain pretty faithful to the original and scuzz and fuzz it up a little, adding a little rawness to the mix.

So Sonic Youth win this duel of Carpenters cover version for me. They really get into the song, they become part of it. For a full list of artists that featured on If I Were A Carpenter CLICK HERE



Previous covers of the month



Thursday, 3 August 2017

Brian Wilson at Kelvingrove Bandstand

Hearing a 70+ year old Brian Wilson sing and deliver songs he wrote and dreamt of in his early 20's brought a magical and mystical air to Kelvingrove Bandstand last night.

I don't mind admitting that there was a tear in my eye during God Only Knows and hearing lyrics like I know perfectly well you've been patient with me became all the more apt when confronted by a clearly frail and fragile author. Of course we were patient, it is not often that you are in the presence of a genuine genius.

Last night at the Kelvingrove Bandstand was magical....biblical....a religious experience.


I had the pleasure of witnessing Brian and his band perform twice before. The first was on his comeback tour in 2002/3 when he played Edinburgh Playhouse. Grown men watched in tears and disbelief as their hero seemingly stepped from his sandpit onto the stage to play songs they had only dreamt of previously experiencing live - certainly from their author. The shiver that ran up my spine during Good Vibrations that night will always live with me.

The second time I caught Brian and his band was at the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, sitting 3 throws from the front in a central position meant that my wife and I could witness his strengths and weaknesses all to close. Brian could still sing beautifully but he also zoned out at times in mid verse and needed back up to make the songs work.

Last night was magical. The stunning setting of Kelvingrove Park and a passionate Glaswegian crowd helped - of course it did. But hearing Brian sing the majority of Pet Sounds as a 70+ year old brought a whole new meaning to the songs. And his 11 (sometimes 12) piece band were exceptional creating wonderful 9 part harmonies at times. Watching and listening to the layers of the songs being created live was very special in such a setting.

I know so many people who think they can do it alone
They isolate their heads and stay in their saftey zone

The first half of the show was a mixture of Beach Boys hits, rarities and favourites, commencing with California Girls and taking in classics like Dance, Dance, Dance alongside the likes of I Get Around ensured the crowd were on his side from the off.

Throw in gems like Let The Wind Blow, Feel Flows, Darlin' and Wild Honey then there was plenty of time for the band and audience to warm up. Personal fave Aren't You Glad also got an airing.

Beach Boys founder Al Jardine looked a million times better than Brian, lean, trim and full of beans in comparison to Brian who looked exceptionally overweight and almost incapable of walking on or off stage. His son Matt joined him on stage to sing all the high parts in the setlist and both were exceptional. But I'm not going to go into whether or not Brian should be touring in his state, I am just going to appreciate that he was.

It is worth remembering that Brian didn't take the lead on Beach Boys material in the 60's, leaving that to Carl, Dennis and other members of the band. The trouble is that in 2017 he is front and centre stage and at times this was quite heartbreaking as Brian displayed no emotion sitting behind a keyboard that I doubt was plugged in. There were some songs where he sat motionless as his exceptional band played his timeless songs.



But hey, it was a brilliant show. Brian's 11/12 piece band were exceptional, Al and Matt Jardine were faultless on vocals and Blondie Chaplin won the crowd over with his vocals, guitar and tamourine playing and the fact that he looked like a cross between Keith Richards and Yoda!

It was in the second half of the show that things really took off. The band and Brian were suitably warmed up and darkness was falling as they begun Pet Sounds. It really was a delight, they played and sung beautifully.

As mentioned, Brian sang most of the songs and it just brought a whole new meaning to them. They are soulful, timeless and life affirming. The reaction to Sloop John B and God Only Knows was incredible. Brian's voice was stronger on songs like Darlin', God Only Knows and through the encore.

The additional encore was one of the best moments in my gig going history as the Bandstand rose to acclaim a genius and to dance and sing to Good Vibrations, Help Me Rhonda, Barbara Anne, Fun Fun Fun, Surfin' USA before Wilson ended with a beautiful and poignant Love and Mercy.

Was this his last show in Scotland/Glasgow? Many believed that it was. Well it was beautiful, soulful and life affirming, just as Pet Sounds was in 1966, just as it is in 2017.

Thank you Brian, thank you for the music.











Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Never Ending Mixtape Part 11



I listened to loads of great music through July, so stand by for the largest monthly addition to the Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify to date..... a whopping 36 songs are added, so the total tunes on the playlist has reached 193 - 13 hours and 33-minutes of music!!!!

We begin with 6-songs posted by Gerry Love from Teenage Fanclub on his Facebook page. I had only previously heard one of them. I'm very fortunate that bands I have loved for so long have members who regularly share their fantastic taste in music - Gerry Love, Tim Burgess and Duglas T Stewart regularly post/tweet links to brilliant music.

Scotland is represented by Remember Remember with the epic flowing John Candy instrumental. There is rock n roll as raw and loud as it gets courtesy of the New York Dolls, a psychedelic beauty hidden away on The Beatles Yellow Submarine album, a couple of incredible modern pop tunes by Prince, 6 sunshine tunes from The Go! Team and The Avalanches that were all added on Monday 24th July when Scotland basked in glorious sunshine, and tons of mod and northern soul songs that I was listening to in the lead up to Somethin's Cookin' in Uddingston at the weekend.

Dig in. More songs will be added throughout August and collected in my Never Ending Mixtape update at the start of September.

Play from the start, from where you left off or on shuffle.


(I Thought) You Wanted To Know - Chris Stamey

Comin' On - David Kilgour

How The West Was Won - Peter Perrett

Come Live With Me - Dorothy Ashby

Marjory Daw - Morning Glory

Be Thankful For What You Got (Pt 1 and Pt 2) - William De Vaughn

I Don't Mind - Twerps

Personality Crisis - New York Dolls

John Candy - Remember Remember

It's All Too Much - The Beatles

Soul Time - Shirley Ellis

I Wanna Be Your Lover - Prince
Controversy

You - Spanky Wilson

You - George Harrison

Ladyflash - The Go!Team
Everyone's A VIP to someone

Since I Left You - The Avalanches
Because I'm Me
A Different Feeling
Sunshine

I'm The Face - The High Numbers

Making Time - The Creation

Wat'cha Gonna Do About It - Doris Troy

You're Gonna Make Me Love You - Sandi Sheldon

The Night - Franki Valli and the Four Seasons

Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy - The Tams

Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) - Frank Wilson

I Got The Fever - The Prophets

Seven Days Too Long - Chuck Wood

Ain't That A Lot Of Love - Taj Mahal

Just Loving You - Ruby Andrews

Something About You - The Four Tops
You Keep Running Away
Walk Away Renee 

Love's Theme - The Love Unlimited Orchestra