Thursday 28 November 2019

Don't Let Me Down

Cover version of the month #49
Dillard and Clark cover The Beatles

I've written about Don't Let Me Down by The Beatles a number of times through the blog, most recently in my Confidently Top 10 blog. It is my favourite Beatles song - so pure, so heartfelt, Lennon so in love that he has to say it in four words rather than three.

So I'm not going to talk about the original version that makes me picture the fab 4 on the Apple rooftop, Lennon's hair blowing in the wind and the friends gelling and laughing as they play their final show. Just watch and listen - magical.

Instead, I'm going to discuss the Dillard and Clark version that I recently discovered. I'm digging into the back catalogue of Gene Clark following the BBC documentary The Byrd Who Flew Alone.

Through the Morning, Through the Night was the second album released by Dillard and Clark, coming out in August 1969, only 10-months after their debut LP. 

I've yet to find out how Dillard and Clark discovered the song before it was released on The Beatles Let It Be album in May 1970, but somehow they did.

Their version keeps the bluesy feel of The Beatles but turns it into country bluesgrass blues. Clark's voice is unaccompanied for the first few seconds before bass, drums, acoustic and lead guitar kick in. The vocal is beautiful and when the harmonies come in, especially if you are listening on headphones, it is pretty spine tingling.

My favourite section of the song is the middle eight;

I'm in love for the first time
And I know it's gonna last
It's a love that lasts a lifetime
It's a love that has no past

Clark changes a couple of words and the way his voice lingers on no past is just stunning. Dillard and Clark with over one minute of Clark repeatedly singing don't let me down backed by beautiful harmonies/backing vocals. The song fades ... I wish they had kept it going, it is sublime. 

Previous covers of the month

Sunday 24 November 2019

The Great Western - Maryhill Community Central Hall

Yesterday was the very first Great Western multi-venue festival in the West End of Glasgow. Music fans had the chance of buying a ticket for a specific venue or a multi-venue ticket.

With The Pastels curating an excellent bill in Maryhill Community Central Hall including Lightships, Sacred Paws and Molly Nilssen - I quickly settled on the idea of staying in the one place. My friend Lorna started out at 3pm and hopped around to see Malcolm Middleton in the stunning Mackintosh Church, also checking out a psych band she couldn't remember the name of in the Hug and Pint and some spoken word in The Doublet before my friend Joe and I joined her at 6.30pm ahead of Lightships. Lorna even gamely hopped off to check !!! at the QMU and made it back for The Pastels.

Maryhill Community Central Hall is a superb venue and I hope the promoters 432 presents consider using it more throughout the year - seats on 3 sides and plenty of space to stand. The smaller room 2 was also excellent.

In Gerry's pre-show interview with The Scotsman he said - for me it's just a case of crossing the line and running about the pitch for a few minutes and going back off and being ready for the next season. That's the way I see it.

On the evidence of last night, Gerry is a midfield maestro like Paul Scholes - capable of turning up and turning it on. With a little training he will be on Champions League form next season.

Two Lines opened the show, Gerry's guitar collided beautifully with Dave McGowan's and we were off. Lightships line-up was Gerry, Dave, Noel O'Donnell (drums), Tom Crossley (flute) and Bob Kildea (bass). It seemed to go on for a glorious ten minutes.

We had two new songs which bodes well for the next season. The first one was, dare I say it, very Fanclub with a lyrics about choosing to walk from the airport. The whole set was beautiful, but I think the band grew stronger as they went on, Gerry would nod when he was ready to end a song, but the outro instrumentals were stretched out a couple of times as the band locked in a groove around circular riffs. Sunlight To The Dawn was a sublime end to the first Lightships show in many years.

We chose to catch up with a lot of people we knew after Lightships rather than head to the second room. There was a brilliant community atmosphere - apt for the venue. 

Sacred Paws were an absolute delight. It's been a good number of years since I last saw them. I think that was quite an early show. The core two-piece of Rachel Aggs (guitar and vocals) and Eilidh Rodgers (drums and vocals) were backed up with an additional guitar and bass at times, but I couldn't take my eyes of Rachel and Eilidh. Their energy and enthusiasm had large sections of a packed crowd dancing away and I caught my friend Alan dancing his heart out up the back section of the seats - so did Rachel and she acknowledged him.

Before we knew it Sacred Paws had drawn us down from standing at the back of the side section of seats to the front for a little boogie. Rachel jumped down from the stage to join in with a crowd to our left. Sacred Paws were on absolute fire and it was one of those beautiful moments when the band knew it and the crowd knew it. I will definitely be going to see them next time they play Glasgow.

I've got a couple of Molly Nilsson's albums and I was looking forward to seeing her in Room 2. She was singing to a backing track, but that didn't stop her from being captivating - her red hair was striking and her silhouette was multiplied by the lights on to the back wall. I did only stay for a couple of songs as Lorna made it back from !!! and my sister managed to finish work a little early to get up in time for The Pastels, so we went to get a drink and a space.

I highlighted my love and appreciation for The Pastels in a recent blog. There was a lot of love in the Community Halls last night. The band were predominantly a 6-piece for the night, joined towards the end of the set by a 7th member to play (tubular) bells. Slow Summits was released 6-years ago and it made up most of the set last night. The 6 or 7-piece band sounded sublime, Stephen and Katrina seemed to take it in turns with lead vocals, at other times they were both involved.

Baby Honey was as outstanding as ever with Stephen coaxing excellent sounds from his guitar and the band ended with a surprise (at least for me) outing for their cover of Different Drum to huge delight all around me.

Stephen highlighted that The Great Western should become an annual event. If so, I hope The Pastels get to curate Maryhill Community Halls every year. 

Wednesday 20 November 2019

In The Year 2525

Trust Me #7 

In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans

In The Year 2525 is a futuristic psychedelic garage pop song released by the American band/duo Zager and Evans. Written by Rick Evans back in 1964, the song was originally released on a small regional label in 1968, before being rereleased and hitting number 1 in the summer of 1969, both in American and the UK.

I first heard it when it was played in the Scottish independent film Small Faces and I fell for it instantly. The production is incredible, the delivery is immediate and powerful.

Talk about taking the listener on a journey; thoughts are pre-programmed into pills, machines take over resulting in parts of the body losing their purpose, kids conceived in test tubes ... talk about being ahead of its time!

Everything you think, do or say
Is in the pill you took today

The song flies through time in 1,010 year intervals, 2525, 3535, 4545 .... leading to 9595 and the singer contemplating if man will still be alive.

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain't put back nothing

This is an incredible song. It is pop in the fact that it is instantly memorable, it is exceptionally clever, the power and delivery is sensational, the production is perfect and the fact that it is so out there, so futuristic and it got to number 1 - it's pretty mind blowing.

Trust Me
1. Something On Your Mind by Karen Dalton
1A. Crimson and Clover by Tommy James and the Shondells
2. I Am, I Said  by Neil Diamond
3. Where's The Playground Susie?   by Glen Campbell
4. If You Could Read My Mind by Gordon Lighfoot
5. Gimme Some Truth by John Lennon
6. Gone With The Wind Is My Love by Rita and the Tiaras

Sunday 17 November 2019

Never Ending Mixtape part 42

My Never Ending MIxtape breaks the 1,200 song mark.

Starting with the sublime Losing You by Solange, through northern soul, pure pop by The Frank and Walters who I once bunked off school for to go and see them play at Tower Records in Glasgow, new discoveries of old songs, a classic from BMX Bandits, quite a few from the Velvet Underground and some great pop tunes from around 10-years ago. How good is Young Folks? And Kids is still ridiculously euphoric - what a riff and melody!

The latest additions are listed below. Search for Everything Flows Never Ending Mixtape on Spotify or click below.

Losing You - Solange
Gone With The Wind Is My Love
Gone With The Wind (instrumental)
After All - The Frank and Walters
Divine Hammer - The Breeders
Pa'lante - Hurray for the Riff Raff
Life Is Sweet (live) - Maria McKee
The Lost Girl In The Midnight Sun - The Lilac Time
Don't Be Scared I Love You - Bill Ryder-Jones
Right Across The Street - BMX Bandits
Satellite Of Love - Lou Reed
What Goes On - The Velvet Underground
I'm Set Free - The Velvet Underground
I Found A Reason - The Velvet Underground
O! Seet Nuthin' - The Velvet Underground
Ride Into The Sun - The Velvet Underground
Ingrown - Smudge
Things - Paul Westerberg
Going Down - Stone Roses
Computer World - Kraftwerk
You Can't Put Your Arms Around A Memory - Johnny Thunders
Kids - MGMT
Need You Now - Cut Copy
How Deep Is Your Love - The Rapture
Every Beat Of The Heart - The Railway Children
Young Folks - Peter, Bjorn and John

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Gerry Cinnamon to play Hampden in 2020

The story, the fairytale, the dream, keeps developing, the bonny burns brighter - more people fall under the spell, far away lands, wild scenes and so we arrive at the latest chapter....

Gerry Cinnamon has announced a HUGE home town show at Hampden Park in Glasgow for Saturday 18th July 2020. Tickets are on sale this Friday, 15th November.

You can pre-order Gerry's forthcoming second album The Bonny to get exclusive pre-sale access from Wednesday 13th November - ORDER HERE

This announcement continues the crazy meteoric rise of Cinnamon. My money was on Gerry headlining a night at TRNSMT 2020 - but his popularity has grown to the extent that he needs his own festival stadium sized show!

And if you follow Gerry online (see video above) it isn't hard to discover why he is playing Hampden. Cinnamon is winning over arenas with his songs and personality. And his fans are playing their part, creating unparallelled atmospheres at his shows.

Sometimes it is hard to catch your breath and remember that Gerry is still unsigned - he releases everything himself. And in a media obsessed world (Gerry avoids it)- social media allows him to connect with the people who matter - the fans. And social media has allowed good old fashioned word-of-mouth to spread; from Glasgow, across Scotland, to England, Ireland, Wales, Europe, Australia, New Zealand ...

This is a trailblazing journey that Cinnamon is taking us on into uncharted, previously unimagined territory - an unsigned artist playing a stadium show?!

I would bet my mortgage on Hampden selling out in a day or less. And then ... a second night?!

I hope Gerry has been keeping a diary the last few years, in a way he has - just check his posts and tweets.

Hampden Park will be an absolute celebration and people will travel from all over to be there.

Good luck in the hunt for tickets.

Sunday 3 November 2019

10 from The Pastels

Katrina Mitchell and Stephen Pastel - the core of The Pastels
Picture by Blair Young

The Pastels have curated the line-up for the Maryhill Community Central Hall section of The Great Western, a new multi-venue one day festival organised by promoters 432 presents. Tickets are on sale now. Gerry Love's Lightships and Sacred Paws are among the bands joining The Pastels. FULL INFO

So I thought I would blog on 10 of my favourite songs from the band, following on from similar blogs on The Vaselines and The Lemonheads.

I fell for The Pastels as a teenager and in many ways I am still falling as I learn more about the band, appreciating them even more with each and every passing year. They are the kind of band I wanted to be in as a teenager and they are the kind of band I wish I was in at the age of 43.

The Pastels just do their own thing, in their own way, at their own pace and they do it exceptionally well. The Pastels are cool without wanting to be cool, they have inspired and supported so many bands from Glasgow and beyond.

Thank You For Being You was the first Pastels record I bought. I also had a red Pastels t-shirt from that era and the 1993 Truckload Of Trouble LP that is full of all kinds of gems ranging from singles to a glorious cover of Different Drum and a a brilliant instrumental Kitted Out.

Not surprisingly, there are a few songs from this era of The Pastels that feature in this blog.

I first caught The Pastels live at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut in 1994. I love the band on record but I probably love them even more live. There is something about the way Stephen plays his guitar (a beauty) and the way the band gel. I love how the line-up and sound has expanded. I love Katrina's drumming that sounds and looks so effortless and carefree at times and her voice is all kinds of melodic gorgeousness. And I love that live and on record, The Pastels music still has a loving, soulful, homegrown, could fall apart at any moment, type of immediacy and quality to it.

The Pastels are an incredibly important band to (and in) Glasgow. Stephen Pastel formed and released music on the legendary 53rd and 3rd Records and now runs the Geographic label. They have put on bands (and most probably put up bands), championed bands from Teenage Fanclub and The Vaselines through to bands like Spinning Coin and The Orielles from further afield. And they have shared their impeccable taste and knowledge via the support bands they cherry pick to play with them, their social media postings and through Stephen's work at Monorail Records.

Here are 10 of my favourites by The Pastels.

Classic line-up
Three minutes and 20 seconds of glorious guitars and gushing lyrics about sunshine, Glasgow and love. Stick this song on the next time you are walking about Glasgow (or any city) in the sunshine and your life will instantly improve.

See the sunshine split those buildings
And I'll feel my heart uplifting
Cause the city casts a magic spell
And my life seems so special

Glasgow is a brilliant city, it has so much to offer and Pastel's love for it comes pouring out in melodies and a love letter in a song.

When the tenement world reveals it's charm
You better grab it fast with both your arms

Crawl Babies
From the seminal Up For A Bit With The Pastels album this is brilliant. Everything seems to just come together, the guitars, the melodies, Stephen's vocals.

Says she's open like a book
She's got everything I need
Even wants to take the time
To teach me how to read

I wanna build her up, up as tall as a church
Just to to watch her, just to watch her falling down

Vivid Youth w/ Tenniscoats
How gloriously mellow and gorgeous is this? Just so beautiful, sublime and in the moment. Katrina's voice is so gentle and pure. I love the way the melody picks up so naturally for the all ashes are grey in the day section.

Check My Heart
Pure guitar pop perfection. This could warm the coldest of days. Katrina takes lead vocals that are melodic, catchy and sing-song-y. Check My Heart is upbeat and completely infectious. I was overjoyed when The Pastels returned from a long absence with this as the lead single. Sublime!

Katrina sings of grabbing life and love we're on a mountain top and I wanna leap out and get it

And Stephen comes in with the gorgeous I wanted a lifetime, not just to fall in your arms.

Million Tears
I only discovered Million Tears when I came across a YouTube playlist of every single Creation Records release a few years back. I couldn't believe I hadn't heard it before!

This is a pure two minute and 40 second rush of guitar pop brilliance. There is still time for a 30-second intro

Oh if I can't have you I don't want nobody else
And if I can't have you I won't take nobody else

I'd tear myself apart 
And cry a million tears
Break down the walls of pain 
And fall into the heartache scene

By 1 minute 20 we have reached a little breakdown and instrumental and then we're straight back into the verse and chorus. In truth this song is just one big chorus for me. It is perfect.

Truck Train Tractor
I love the humour and also the urgency in this song. It drives along (pardon the pun) and it always makes me smile.

Comin' Through
More incredible guitar pop! When you listen to songs like Comin' Through it is no wonder The Pastels made such an impression, such an impact and created such love from music fans all over the world.

I particularly love the closing 40-seconds or so. The Pastels are absolutely on it, everything collides beautifully as extra layers are added.

Nothing To Be Done
Pastel and Aggi (Annabel) duet and melt hearts. The song flows, crashes and tumbles beautifully as Stephen and Aggi take it in turns to trade verses before their vocals gel towards the end.

Take my hand and take my heart
I shiver when you're near

Baby Honey
Baby Honey thrills, it grooves, it drones, it ignites, it excites, it is utterly captivating. Baby Honey is young Glaswegians discovering The Velvet Underground and the thrill of finding out what sounds can be coaxed from an electric guitar.

If I wish upon a star
Take you just the way you are

There is magic in her fingertips
There is magic in the lips I kiss
There is magic in her beautiful eyes
Justify the tears I cry

Thank You For Being You
And we end 10 from The Pastels with the first song of theirs that I fell for. I hope you can hear why! This is guitar pop perfection, Pastel is so in love he needs four words rather than three.