Monday, 6 February 2023

(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

Cover version of the month # 83

Peggy Lee covers Otis Redding

Otis Redding started writing (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay in the summer of 1967, finally hitting the studio in November to begin recording, returning on 7th December to finish it.

On 10th December Otis was tragically killed in a plane crash. The single was then released on 8th January 1968 and became the first posthumous number 1 single.

It's an incredible example of the art of songwriting; the picture the lyrics paints, the emotion in the vocals, the arrangement, the musicianship, the space in the song ...

However, I'm not going to write about the original. Plenty has been written about this sensational song and performance by Otis and his band over the years. Instead I'm going to focus on a  cover version by Peggy Lee.

Lee wasn't the first to cover Dock Of The Bay, that may well have been King Curtis who released an instrumental version the same year as the original. Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 released super chilled version in 1969, while over the years Michael Bolton, Glen Campbell and also The Reddings (a band containing two of Otis' sons) have been inspired to record the song.

But the cover version that blew me away when I heard it was one by Peggy Lee that my great friend Phil introduced me to.

Opening with a funky breakbeat and a stab of horns, the bass is outrageously funky in the background (and this continues throughout). Lee's vocals are crystal clear, and feel calm in comparison to the funky jazz instrumental behind her. 

Things lift at 1-minute 29 seconds, listen to the drum rolls! The horns sound euphoric and Lee's voice soars effortlessly.

Looks like nothings gonna change

Everything still remains the same

I can't do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I'll remain the same

There is a delicious looseness to this performance, although if you listen closely the band are working their socks off. The backing vocals are perfect, while Peggy lee's voice is utterly sublime.

Otis' original and Peggy Lee's version are added to my Cool Cover Versions playlist on Spotify.

Check Otis Redding's first take (demo) below on YouTube. Co-writer Steve Cropper makes seagull noises and whistles. At the end Otis says to Steve "you're not gonna make it as a whistler" and I think he was right!

Otis Redding official video

Otis Redding - take 1 of Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay

Peggy Lee 1969

All previous cover version of the month blogs are listed below. To listen, search for Everything Flows Cool Cover Versions playlist, featuring all of the songs below, on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt
39. ABBA-esque
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
64. Lola
82. Drop

Saturday, 4 February 2023

Heavy Heavy

Here is my track-by-track take on the new Young Fathers album after a couple of listens.

Young Fathers Heavy Heavy explodes into action with the opening track Rice. The bass is heavy ... heavy, the beats are tribal, the melodies flow and there is a gospel choir.

I Saw has a powerful urgency, the bass is reminiscent of Massive Attack, the groove allowing so much to go on over the top of it. There is a lot going on and it's f**king magical. The layers, the production, the hooks and harmonies. 

An Ethiopian choir (I think) is introduced on Drum as the song builds beautifully and Young Fathers introduce a mantra that becomes hypnotic.  

Hear the beat of the drums and go numb, have fun, go on
We don't need all the ones to have won, so have one, someone
And then some

Tell Somebody has a falsetto vocal over a dreamy organ and synth sound. Young Fathers work it up  again, the drums CRASH and again they layer things up with so much tender care. Sublime. When things drop back to the organ you realise what a trip you've been on. Lost in the music. This is beautiful.

Young Fathers are really in the zone on this album. The dreamy vibe continues with Geronimo, the band create another beautiful groove. This just feels so good. And then over the groove they just run with it over a get on, get off mantra.

I'm on the verge of somethin' divine that's gonna keep me in line
Most of my life I've been thinkin', got the feelin'  I'm caught in a bind
Being a son, brother, uncle, father figure, I  gotta survive and provide
My momma said you'll never please your woman, but you'll have a good time trying

Shoot Me Down kicks in to bring you out of a trance like state after the trilogy of Drum, Tell Somebody and Geronimo. The band are soon back into a groove, there is another stunning falsetto. And then the band take flight for the outro. It's cut short,  I'd have likes to hear it go on, but Young Fathers have ways of grabbing your attention. 

Ululation is sheer joy, the music and the euphoric tribal woops. It's pretty cinematic, widescreen, in technicolour, this is euphoric.

Oh baby won't you let me in
My mind is saying sink or swim

Sink Or Swim has more instantly memorable vocal melodies, layered up to into a dreamy mantra, the beats are so infectious. 

Holy Moly is darker, but gospel style piano chords are introduced halfway though and then things explode into a joyful chorus

Don't feel ready, ready to erect
My back's still broken from all life's effect
I still think about the words that you said
Oh, you said,oh, you said, you said,  you said

Closing with Be Your Lady, beginning all tender and then going all gloriously glitchy electro, Young Fathers Heavy Heavy is 10 songs in under 33-minutes. It delivers so much but leaves you wanting more.

Those lucky enough to see them on their forthcoming tour are in for a real treat.

Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Hi Ren

In my initial draft for this blog the Who is Ren? section was last. I then watched a very personal soul baring video by this young man and flipped it.

Please read all of this blog.

Who is Ren?

Ren Gill is an incredibly talented young man who has been living with and battling various chronic health problems for a decade. 

He lost his 20's. 

But there is hope. There is music. There is determination. And there is a growing movement of support.

Ren, when he has been well enough, has played on the streets of Brighton, released demos (and proper recordings) online, created a YouTube channel and is building a huge following through word of mouth.

He's doing it all his way, in his own time, with friends and with true heart and soul.

Check his YouTube channel. It's incredible. 

 A  GoFundMe page page has been set up. It contains a recent update and a detailed account of what Ren has been through. It's heartbreaking. Ren's determination is very inspiring.

Ren updates his social media pages to let his fans know how they are helping and how he is getting on. 

His latest update this week indicates that he will be in Canada for treatment for the next 6-months.

Watch this video to see what it means to him. It's the most emotional thing I have watched in a long time.

If you enjoy this song (video below) and appreciate his talent, maybe, like I have, you could donate the cost of a CD - £10. As Ren says on his GoFundMe update - if everyone who appreciates his talent could make a donation, he has a fighting chance. He is very transparent about his illness and the cost of treatment.

My initial blog -  Hi Ren

Over the course of a week or so a few people I follow online posted a video that I never checked out. And then a few more people posted it ... and I checked it out.

I'm very glad I did. It was an extraordinary performance video by the artist Ren for his song Hi Ren.

In the video ren is wheeled in on a wheelchair/hospital chair into a run down room. Wearing a hospital gown and with his acoustic guitar strapped round him, hair shaved to the bone at the sides and ragged and jagged on top, Ren then delivers a performance that I couldn't take my eyes off.

Ren Gill has been battling chronic health problems for over a decade, and in this song he plays two characters representing the voices in his head (good/bad, angel/devil, light/dark) Ren shows his intelligence, soul, humility, humour and talent, but also allows his anger, frustration and doubt to surface. It's genuinely outstanding. 

The video is recorded live, cleverly edited as Ren switches from each character, turning left to right. His facial expressions are incredible as he really gets into the 'Bad Ren' as he takes over the song.

But then the song flips as Ren himself comes through, the song slows, a beautiful guitar riff is introduced

Hi Ren, I've been taking some time to be distant

I've been taking some time to be still

I've been taking some time to be by myself

And I've spent half my life ill

But as sure as the tide starts turning

Just as sure as the night has dawn

Just as sure as rain fall soon runs dry

When you stand in the eye of the storm

Ren rises to his feet, bares his soul and keeps on singing. He then takes off his guitar and speaks directly into the camera about his illness, auto-immunity and psychosis. It's beautiful.

It was never a battle for me to win, it was an eternal dance

And like a dance, the more rigid I became the harder it got

The more I cursed my clumsy footsteps the more I suffered

And so I got older and I learned to relax

And I learned to soften and that dance got easier

It is this eternal waltz that separates human beings

From angels, from demons, from gods

And I must not forget, we must not forget, that we are human beings

Never Ending Mixtape part 79


Welcome to the first update of my Never Ending Mixtape series in 2023. I missed January and as a result there are far too many songs that have been added since the last update, so it's a bit of a round up!

But by now, you know the drill. I add songs to my Never Ending Mixtape all the time and do a catch up blog every month. 

THANK YOU SO MUCH if you are one of the 310 people that follow my Never Ending Mixtape playlist on Spotify where (at the time of writing) there are 3,173 songs for you to explore and enjoy, up to the stunning I Think I Need A New Heart by The Magnetic Fields.

It's a real melting pot. I enjoy playing on shuffle. 

Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Additions include;

NEW ARTISTS - Goliath and Swim School from Scotland who I blogged on HERE

NEW/LATE DISCOVERIES - I only checked the Panda Bear and Sonic Boom album after my albums of 2022 blog. It is SUBLIME.

SUPER SOUL - I'm listening to A LOT of soul music these days. There are some gems from Marvin Gaye that I had never heard before. The amount of demos and previously unreleased songs available online by Marvin are incredible. Prolific!

OLD FAVES - James, Badly Drawn Boy, Oasis, Beck, The Juliana Hatfield 3, Nirvana

BLAKE BABIES - I have been going through a Blake Babies (Juliana Hatfield's old band) phase. Expect a blog on them in the near future. I LOVE THEM!

And the United Calypso song is on there after the tremendous 2-1 victory over city recently. It is a gem of a football song, harking back to the days of the Busby Babes, it really captures the excitement of going to see the magnificent young team that Sir Matt created. So if your'e a football fan you might appreciate it anyway. If not, just skip.

Friday, 27 January 2023

The Delgados at The Barrowland

After 17-years away, The Delgados returned to a live stage in Glasgow on Burns Night, bringing their own unique poetry and music to the hallowed turf of the Barrowland Ballroom.

Andrew Wasylyk was a phenomenal choice to support. Wasylyk is one of Scotland's most talented and prolific artists in my eyes. The string of albums he has released over the last 6-years highlight an incredible ear for music. Think David Axelrod soundscapes; soulful, jazzy, atmospheric ...  Wasylyk was in his element, lost in the music, playing piano but also singing along to the melodies. It was beautiful to watch and to experience.

My friend Joe and I had kid duties to attend to before we could head to the Barrowland, but we managed to catch the last 20-minutes of Wasylyk's set, including a sublime Last Sunbeams Of Childhood. Wasylyk thanked The Delgados profusely for allowing him to bring his 8-piece set up on tour.

The Delgados were pretty prompt to come on stage, mere minutes after 9pm. A traditional ballroom tune was the soundtrack to their entrance, lights hitting off the disco ball and causing many to stare up to the beautiful Barrowland ceiling.

If you're going to come back after an 18-year absence then The Delgados method is one heck of a way to do it. The 4-piece of Emma Pollock, Alun Woodward, Stewart Henderson (looking super chiselled and handsome - I believe Stewart is a Fireman these days) and Paul Savage were joined by their friend Graeme Smilie plus a 5-piece string and flute section. 

What a beautiful noise they created!

As a music fan, there are times when you experience something truly special, when everything clicks. This was one of those nights, one of those shows. The sound, the atmosphere, the music, the band and the way the songs connected with the audience. It was emotional.

At times it could be deliciously raw and then the strings could come in and lift the song to higher places. Pollock (half) joked as she introduced the string section 'we'd be shit without them.'

 Strings are central to some songs, they supplement others, adding emotion, a cinematic flair and they transform The Delgados. Do the band write the string sections? They are stunning.

I came away with a greater appreciation for The Delgados and each individual member; Emma Pollock's rhythm guitar playing, Alun Woodward's soul baring lyrics and the way he sings them over lysergic melodies, Stewart Henderson's solid bass groove and Paul Savage bossing the drums. And Graeme Smilie on piano/keys (so important to The Delgados sound) was a gem.

Everything Goes Around The Water set the scene, this was going to be one of those special nights under the Barrowland stars. This feeling was immediately backed up as the band moved on to Accused of Stealing, Pollock's tumbling vocal melodies over Savage's beats, dropping for the gorgeous piano melody.

The Delgados can rock out as well, Under Canvas Under Wraps was delivered at a ferocious and furious pace, sounding like something The Breeders were knocking out in the early 90's.

As much as I love that kind of stuff, when it comes to The Delgados, it's the songs that have more space within them and the songs that have strings that simultaneously play your own heart strings that I truly love.

I recently blogged on American Trilogy as part of my Trust Me series of blogs. Having listened to the song multiple times this month, I've really fallen for it all over again. So to hear and see it performed in the Barrowland felt like an honour. It was a true privilege to witness Alun Woodward sing his brittle heart out on this one.

The Delgados were flying now, lifting the audience up alongside them for the ride. The whole set was incredible, but the second half in particular was particularly captivating. I barely said a word the whole night, but there were a few times when i turned to my friend Joe to either whisper 'what a run of songs' or to just raise my eyebrows and exchange knowing glances.

Did I mention strings and melodies playing with our own heart strings? Yeah, one of those runs of songs was American Trilogy into Reasons For Silence (Ed's Song), then The Light Before We Land, followed by The Past That Suits You Best

WOW! We were then almost jolted from a cinematic, floaty dream with the warm urgent guitar pop of Everybody Come Down - one of my favourite Delgados songs.

Photo by Christina Pieraccini

And then we were flying high again on another of my real favourites. All You Need Is Hate. Joe and I were standing in front of the string section. My eyes moved from them to Alun (smiling), to Emma (beaming), Stewart and a little glimpse of Paul Savage lost in his beats. What a f**king beautiful noise. What a song! 

Coming on for the encore, Emma spoke fondly of driving to London to collect 1,000 7-inch singles and with that the band were into debut single Monica Webster. The band tore through it with real relish and love.

The penultimate song was the epic No Danger, piano and strings combining so beautifully, so hauntingly, so movingly, Woodward's soothing vocal melody cutting in, I've been hanging round for days, building to the beats and guitar and finally the chorus.

'cause we don't know we're strong enough
And chances come too soon
But people, people we're not in love
And now we're singing out of tune

Thirteen Gliding Principles closed proceedings, the band departing to a spellbound audience. I was so spellbound I had to be reminded that the band had closed with this song! I think No Danger had literally stopped me in my tracks!

WOW! A near 2-hour set that captivated a sold out Barrowland crowd from start to finish. The Delgados flew, The Delgados soared, The Delgados lifted an entire room of people off the ground and took us all on a dreamy journey on Wednesday night. It was a very, very special evening.

Emma hinted (well basically told us) that they would be playing a Summer Nights show at the Kelvingrove Bandstand. They might need to do 2-nights as I imagine every single person at The Barrowland will be trying to get a ticket and will all have told their friends about what a fantastic time they had at The Barrowland.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Anything Goes & Everything Flows DJ Mix 20

Welcome to my first Anything Goes & Everything Flows DJ Mix of 2023. If you're new to this series, it's basically me compiling a 60(ish) minute mix/playlist that I would love to hear/play in one of my favourite pubs in Glasgow - McChuills. 

McChuills is an incredible music pub. It lives and breathes it. DJ's, bands, posters, artwork, nights, days ... Located on High Street, just on the edge of the Merchant City, it's just nicely out of the way of anything else, though still very central.

This months mix definitely has a McChuills vibe of northern soul, mod and just a dash of funk. It's got old faves from previous mixes like Keep On Keepin' On and I Believe In Miracles, but also plenty of recent discoveries such as the fantabulous version of Sympathy For The Devil by Sandie Shaw. Look out for that featuring in my Cover of the Month series in the near future!

If Googa Mama doesn't have you dancing and smiling then please check your pulse. 

I'm really pleased with this mix. 23 songs in 66-minutes. It packs a lot in for sure! ENJOY!

Search for Everything Flows DJ Mix 20 on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Afternoon Of The Rhino - Mike Post Coalition

In Orbit - Joy Lovejoy

Googa Mama - The Bongolian

I Can Only Give You Everything - Them

Jezahel - Shirley Bassey

Don't You Miss Me A Little Bit Baby - Marvin Gaye

I Can't Help Lovin' You - Paul Anka

Keep On Keepin' On - Nolan Porter

Ride Your Pony - Betty Harris

Happy (Is My Life) - Andre Williams / Velvet Hammer

Come On Train (Original mix) - Don Thomas

Seven Days Too Long (Mono mix) - Chuck Wood

Sliced Tomatoes - Just Brothers

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

I Can't Hold On - Lorraine Chandler

I Can Feel Your Love - Felice Taylor

Tainted Love - Gloria Jones

Big Bird - Eddie Floyd

I Believe In Miracles - Jackson Sisters

The Night - Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons

Get Ready - Ella Fitzgerald

I'll Keep Holding On - The Marvelettes

Sympathy For The Devil - Sandie Shaw

Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon 5 at Oran Mor

The January Blues can hit pretty hard. What better way to banish them then to dance, sing, laugh and smile with the party machine that is Colonel Mustard and the Dijon Five?

I've caught CMD5 a number of times over the years, but the last time was pre-pandemic at a Celtic Connections show at the Old Fruitmarket back in January 2020.

3-years on and CMD5 are as bright, colourful and inventive as ever. I had so much fun that I never counted how many people were in the band. I'm guessing 10; 3 in the horn section, drums, bass, guitar, keyboards, effects/samples plus the effervescent Fathom and the good Colonel John McMustard leading the band and crowd through a 80 minutes of partying.

Colonel Mustard and the Dijon Five win friends and hearts wherever and whenever they play. They have built a huge community from wowing people at festivals, leading to huge shows at the Barrowland and the Academy in Glasgow ... alongside trips to Korea.

Their infectious energy transfers to the audience. The cost of living crisis, the climate crisis, the energy crisis ... the Tories ... for 80-minutes yesterday afternoon people forgot about their worries.

Everyone was happy, everyone was smiling, no-one in Oran Mor was sad anymore.

And that is the beauty of Colonel Mustard, that is the power of music. What was extra special was that this was a matinee show, so it was a real family affair. The four of us went and I would love to see more matinee/family friendly shows across the city in the future.

Photo by Colin Bilby, Phoenix Independent Photography

CMD5 have built quite a selection of crowd pleasers over their 2 albums. Taking in disco, funk, pop, reggae, ska and adding a dash of Screamadelica and a sprinkling of humour while appreciating the importance of audience engagement and participation. 

We crossed The road (not quite as easy as it is in a festival field, had a dance off (2 kids won inflatable trophies), batted balloons around the room, sang the praises of ginger girls, aaaarrrrggghhhhed as pirates and rrrrrroooooaaaaarrrred as dinosaurs, danced like no-one was watching, bounced like bouncy balls, had a house music rave (This Is Your House was a real favourite) and unified as one to preach peace, love and mustard.

The Colonel parted the crow like the Red Sea to let people dance down the middle
during (and for a) Dance Off

The imagination of John McMustard to write the songs, develop the concept of CMD5 and their Yellow Movement, include humour with reflection and politics, while creating a party vibe is pretty incredible. And it's ambitious. It can't be easy to keep a 10-piece band on the go! But everyone has fun and fun can keep many things going and make everything easier.

I would heartily recommend seeing CMD5 live if you can. Keep an eye on their socials for festival announcements and a Christmas show - they hinted about that on stage. Hopefully there will be a matinee show.