Thursday, 28 April 2011

101 "favourite" tracks - No 21-30

21. Captain Beefheart, Sheriff of Hong Kong

I had assumed that I would only have one entry per artist / band, but here is the one exception. With Big-eyed beans from Venus already chosen, I have found it impossible to put this track just as an alternate. Everything the Magic band was about is in this track, clearly focused on the various crossing rythmns. Quite breathtaking in my view

Alternates: Any one of 20 others

22. Cat Powers, Wild is the Wind

I first came across Cat Power about five or six years ago when the album What would the Community think? came out. I was hugely impressed by this as I was by the earlier albums that I picked up soon after. Then there were all the stories about wierd concert performances, which I was able to see for myself on the tour promoting You are free. I am actually not that big a fan of the two Covers records, yet my all time favorite Cat Power track is from the first covers cd, a version of an old Nina Simone song. That she has removed almost all the notes and slowed it down to a fraction of the original speed, is what makes it so special.

I am also a big fan of her ultra-rare DVD, Speaking for Trees. This has a couple of great videos of early tracks. I was not keen on the recent Memphis Blues albums (except for Love and Communication), but maybe there are hints in the most recent performances of a move back to the stripped down shows of old.

Alternates: Evolution, Love and Communication, You are free, Nude as the news, Keep on runnin', etc.

23. Charalambides, Naked on our Deathskins

A band about whom I know virtually nothing, other than that Christina Carter is on a Thurston Moore solo cd. This track comes from a compilation Cd called Harmony of the Spheres, that also features the great guitarist, Loren Mazzacane Connors. I always like tracks that open with long instrumental sections, and this features around 10 minutes of a beautiful guitar solo before the brief verse of vocals and the long drone that ends it the track after 19:40

This is not the longest single track in this list though

24. Cinerama, London

A mark of a great cover version is that, firstly, it stands on its own and expands the original, and, second, that it makes you hear the original in some new way. Both these features apply to this track, a cover of a track by The Smiths, by David Gedge of The Wedding Present. It was the B-side of the Manhattan single and I totally love the radio interference that features through the middle break of the track.

The rare event - a cover version that is better than the original

25. Les Claypool, Rumble of the Diesel

Someone I mainly picked up on from live concert downloads, I really loved the version of Claypool's Fancy Band with Gabby La La on sitar. Many of the tracks that I had come to love before her appearance were dramatically improved by her contributions. But she seems to not be in the current version of the band, which is rather disappointing. What has happened to her?

Some years back, I bought a ticket to the Bonaroo festival in the USA in part because of Claypool being on the bill. I still have plans to go to an American festival, just not sure which one and not sure when.

26: Cocteau Twins, Musette and Drums

For a brief period in 1983 and 1984 I thought that Cocteau Twins were the peak of what it would ever be possible to achieve in music. The two stupendous Peel Sessions of 1983 were my most-listened to cassettes, Garlands was a great debut while Head over Heels was my favourite cd of all time for a couple of years. I saw them a dozen times in concert with time they totally blew away OMD at Hammersmith, the Sadlers' Wells residency and the Royal Festival Hall as obvious highpoints. I even drove back twice from a work job in Windsor so I could see all the Sadlers Wells shows

But then it all went so wrong. Treasure was ok, but after that they moved into this fluffy, lullaby sort of sound which I really hated. They should have stuck to their Siouxsie and the Banshee roots in my view. Indeed I don't even knwo anything about releases after Victorialand. And clearly Musette and Drums is not fluffy at all

Alternates: Tinderbox of the Heart, Dear Heart, Hearsay Please

27: Loren Mazzacone Connors, In cushman's row

Someone I know through Wire Magazine and whose guitar work has continued to marvel me for the last few years. And for some while I thought he was female! This track comes from the cd,9th Avenue, and is a semi-live recording. If I could play guitar, I would like to be able to play like this

Alternates: More or less anything!

28: The Cure, All cats are grey

From my depressed late-teenager years, released when I was 18 and a firm favourite among the more alternative music people at school. Why listen to Judas Priest or The Scorpions, when there was this available. Of course you eventually grow out of this phase, though it stayed a while I must say. The follow up, Pornography, was also one of my favourites for some while and I loved the show from that tour that I saw at Hammersmith Odeon - the show when the support was the film, Carnage Visors, which the superb track that you got on the cassette version of the Faith album.

I hated the "whimsical" Cure that came soon after, but clearly Bloodflower and Disintegration from years later are stupendous records.

Alternates: Cold, Siamese Twins, The same deep water as you

29: Current 93, Neimandswasser

I was surprised to discover the other week that I have over 20 Current 93 cds. Yet I would guess that virtually no one has heard of them. A prime example of a musician (David Tibet) who has been able to create a large body of fine work with basically little or no media exposure. My favourite cd is Sleep has its house, which is actually quite distinct from the usual material, based around arrangements for the harmonium, and from which this track comes.

I'm always keen to find out what he does next and have just purchased Nature Unveiled and Honeysuckle aons, neither of which I know anything about, but which I am already excited to here.

One of my most listened to recordings this last year has been a relatively poor quality bookleg of the Current 93 at the Forum in London. Extremely simple song arrangements, gradually building in intensity for each of the 14 tracks. A fine performance, if not a great recording.

30: Danielle Dax, Pariah

I saw Danielle Dax perform in the band The lemon Kittens just after I came to London and it was pretty odd. A friend of mine that I used to exchange bootleg tapes with was the drummer in Shockheaded Peters, formed by one of the members of Lemon Kittens after the breakup, and of whom John Peel once said their first single had "no redeeming qualities whatsoever".

Pariah is from Danielle Dax's very odd album, Jesus egg that wept. The video is really low quality, but that somehow makes it so good - see youtube for details

From the extraordinary video for Pariah

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