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Last.fm (featuring Pete Murray)

9 Dec 2007 – 16 Dec 2007

51Pete Murray
21
172Stephen Fry
17
 3Nick Harper
12
 4The KLF
9
45Nine Inch Nails
6
105Waterson:Carthy
6
217Paul McCartney
5
217Wizzard
5
199Band Aid
4
510Genesis
3

Pete Murray is an Australian and I’d never heard of him until my good friend Philippe asked if I would sing a duet with him on the track Opportunity. I learned it in an afternoon and we rehearsed a few times and pulled it off very well as it happens. Unfortunately the recording I made of the concert was too hot and the whole thing clipped all the way through. So, I’d best let you listen to the original then!

Stephen Fry reads the Harry Potter audiobooks and does so very well. I’m just starting the final one now and am really enjoying them!

Nick Harper is a definite for featured artist on day. Meanwhile, enjoy Pete Murray.

Weekly last.fm charts (featuring Nine Inch Nails)

Top Artists this Week (see more)

2 Dec 2007 – 9 Dec 2007
81Nine Inch Nails
61
 2The Wonder Stuff
34
 3Владимир Высоцкий
22
 4Roy Harper
20
 5Bryan Sutton
19
 6Martin Carthy
16
 6Pete Murray
16
 8Pixies
15
 9The Greencards
14
 10Pat Walsh
13

Nine Inch Nails are at the top this week. This is mainly thanks to the inspiration I got from bevester who recommended Year Zero. I’ve been a fan of NIN since Pretty Hate Machine but haven’t bought any of their music since Downward Spiral. Not really sure what that is, but there you have it. So I was excited to hear Year Zero and it didn’t let me down. It has that trademark NIN angst and I loved it right from the start. I guess as a concept album I should get familiar with the lyrics but that usually comes later for me.

The song I listened to most on Pretty Hate Machine was Something I can Never Have. And it still gives me the chills. I remember locking myself away with PHM and a bottle of White & Mackay after being dumped one time and playing it loud.

I did see them perform once in Glasgow (May 1994) but I remember very little about it.

So many thanks bevester for the recommendation and here are some tunes for y’all’s enjoyment. (including Hurt, which Johnny Cash covered on American Recordings IV and made it his own and now I play the JC version — planning on playing it today at my leaving gig as it happens!) The NIN version is really good too though.

Something I Can Never Have

Hurt

Another Version of the Truth

Weekly last.fm charts (featuring Mika)

25 Nov 2007 – 2 Dec 2007

11Suzanne Vega
36
 2Thomas Luis de Victoria
19
 3Mika
13
 4Muse
12
34Beppe Gambetta
12
 6Sergei Rachmaninoff
9
27Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman
8
18Stephen Fry
5
 9Nine Inch Nails
4
 10Steve Gibson with Leo Laporte
2

This week’s artist is Mika. Lorraine heard a track of his on the radio whilst babysitting Hamish in the car while he slept as I and Freya were having fun in the park. She liked it well enough to buy the CD and it really is great. His vocal range is incredible and his music pop-tastic. Sort of a cross between Freddy Mercury and Robbie Williams.

I hope he’s not a flash in the pan!

Thomas Luis de Victoria is a CD that I have of choral music and it’s really good for aiding concentration or playing really loud to mediate to.

Enjoy.

Any Other World

Weekly last.fm charts (featuring Suzanne Vega)

Cutting it fine this week folks! Without further ado, here are last week’s charts:

Top Artists this Week (see more)

18 Nov 2007 – 25 Nov 2007
81Beppe Gambetta
34
 2Suzanne Vega
31
 3The Wonder Stuff
30
 4Pierre Bensusan
28
 5Roger Waters
20
336Talking Heads
14
 7Tony McManus
10
 7Stephen Fry
10
 9Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman
9
 10Big Audio Dynamite II
8

Beppe‘s at the top. His new one (Slade Stomp) is really very good.

Things are beginning to look a bit more representative of my actual music tastes now. I won’t go into them all this week as I’m sure the ones who haven’t yet been my featured artist will be one day. Stephen Fry is the audio books of Harry Potter, and Anne Dudley and Jaz Coleman is a CD called Songs from the Victorious City which I was overjoyed to find (it wasn’t that hard actually). I used to listen to it a lot on cassette during my university days, playing cards with my mate and rolling Camberwell carrots. The Victorious City is a direct translation from the Arabic for Cairo. It was a real treat to hear those tunes again.

And so to this week’s artist. Many years ago, when I was still quite wee (must’ve been around 1987) I caught a documentary on Suzanne Vega. It was late at night, I was tired and only half watching. One tune really caught my attention and I started watching intently after that. The tune was Fancy Poultry (from her second album, Solitude Standing). I then bought that album and her first one and listened to them a heck of a lot. They were very much part of the soundtrack to my mid to late teenage years. I continued to follow her work and got a new CD whenever one was released. She evolved and changed styles and producers and got a bit more experimental and I just loved her stuff. I got to see her in Edinburgh back in 1993 and again here in a school gym hall in Luxembourg in about 2002 and then at a festival in Belgium the following year. She’s really great live. At the Belgium gig I was already part of the Towie Tree (the forum on her own web site) and so was able to go back stage and say hi to her. It was great to meet her.

I have learned to play a few of her tunes on the guitar, including my very favourite The Queen and the Soldier.

I knew that she had a new album due out and checked this week. Sure enough, there it was, Beauty & Crime and it was DRM free on Amazon! I’ve listened to it a couple of times and like it but I don’t know it well enough yet to comment. It’s with a new producer again (she divorced her previous producer, Mitchell Froom a few years ago) and features the vocals of her daughter Ruby and KT Tunstall!

I could write more and more coherently but I’m really tired and it’s time for bed.

Anyway, here are a few samplers for y’all.

Ironbound / Fancy Poultry

Caramel

Blood Sings

Beppe Gambetta in concert

 SCROLL DOWN TO PLAY SOME MUSIC WHILE YOU READ!

I had the very good fortune of seeing Italian acoustic steel string guitar maestro Beppe Gambetta play last night at my favourite concert venue of all time, a little café restaurant in the north of Luxembourg. The café seats around 100 and does some great food so it’s nice to turn up early, have a candlelit meat with friends and then watch an intimate performance. I’ve never yet been to a bad gig there and always thoroughly enjoy myself. Last night was no exception.

I first heard of Beppe through a friend of mine, picksmith Dave Skowron of Tortis Pick fame. When I heard that he was playing with Dan Crary at the same little café back in 2004, Dave told me to jump at it. “That’s half the Men of Steel at one gig!” was his cry! (the other half being Tony McManus and Don Ross). So I went to that and was blown away.

Then in 2005 I went to Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamp in Maryland, Tennessee where Beppe was one of the instructors (so were Tony and Dan!). So I took a couple of masterclasses with Beppe and came away suitably impressed with his teaching material and style.

He then played again at the little café last year and, finally, once again last night. It’s funny to think that our guitar heroes get better the same as we mere mortals do – I always think, well, they’re such great players anyway, so how can they get better. But as a player, I understand all too well that, as long as the passion and hunger is there, one is never really satisfied. I can think of several times when I’ve thought to myself, now if only I could play that, I’d be happy. But of course that’s not how it works, and thank God for that! And naturally it is the same for all players, no matter what the level. All of which is to say that Beppe really has improved since I saw him last year. He’s got a new solo CD out (Slade Stomp) and much of the material is technically more complex than his Blu di Genova CD. In short, he blew me away last night. He has an arrangement of an Ave Maria which would bring a tear to a glass eye — he composed that to play at a friend’s wedding.

It was gratifying to be recognised when I went up to say hello – “ah, my Scottish friend – sorry about the football!” Well, I’ll give him that. The music levels the playing field, to use a football metaphor (and to my dear American readers, I of course mean soccer, which really is proper football since we play only with our feet – not the American football where one is permitted to use one’s hands!)

He had a new guitar with him this time as well, an R. Taylor in Engelmann spruce and Madascar rosewood with a bevel. I’ve never much cared for the Taylor sound, but this was different. The R. Taylors are hand made by Bob Taylor so I guess it’s the same deal as the Lowdens and George Lowdens. It sounded really great acoustically, but boy oh boy, when he plugged it in, it was about as good as it gets. I’ve heard a LOT of plugged in sounds and this was up there with the best I’ve heard. It had an Expression system installed but he played also into a condenser mic. I should start doing that.

Beppe Gambetta @ L’Inoui, Luxembourg

Anyway, back to the gig. He played a mix of old and new and I was really pleased to hear him play my two favourites from Blu di Genova, On the Road with Mama and Church Street Blues. I mentioned to him at the break that he had already played two of my three favourites from the CD, the other being haunting Fuinde. So he said he would play that for me in the encore, and he did! Thanks, Beppe!

I bought his new CD and the accompanying tab book as well. I’d dearly love to learn to play some Beppe tunes but they seem to be getting up there with Pierre Bensusan’s tunes in terms of difficulty. One day, for sure!

Here are a few tunes for your enjoyment. If you like ’em, go and see him or buy his CDs. You won’t regret it!

Fuinde
Beppe Gambetta
On the Road with Mama
Beppe Gambetta
Church Street Blues
Beppe Gambetta
Ave Maria
Beppe Gambetta

Weekly last.fm charts (featuring The The)

11 Nov 2007 – 18 Nov 2007

 1Beastie Boys
35
 2The The
28
 3Anna Massie
26
34Bert Jansch
25
 5Radiohead
23
 6Lou Reed
16
 7Tommy Emmanuel
14
 7Nine Inch Nails
14
 9Peter Gabriel
12
 9Beppe Gambetta
12

My last.fm profile is beginning to reflect my musical profile more accurately as time goes it. It was time this week to address some gaps. First up, the Beastie Boys. I was a fan of the Beasties since Licensed to Ill, and it’s still a cracking album. When I was doing my basic training in 1988 at AAC Harrogate, we all had to do a party piece. Mine was Billy Connolly sketch (the one about getting caught ‘having a wank’) and the full version of Paul Revere from Licensed to Ill. It went down pretty well as I recall (although I think the Billy sketch was better received!). Then came the classic Paul’s Boutique, the Beasties seminal album in my opinion. An incredible set of samples and hip-hop that was way ahead of its time and relatively unknown compared to Licensed to Ill. We even tried to find the real Paul’s Boutique from the address given in the album (in Brooklyn) when we travelled the US in 1993, but it was to no avail! (I could link to the post I made but for some REALLY annoying reason Vox displays only some of my tags – why is that Vox?) Then came Check Your Head, another ground-breaking album in the same vein as Paul’s Boutique. Brilliant. Ill Communication didn’t sit so well with me; I just never really bonded with it in the same way and I that was the last B-Boys album I bought. So, I spent some time this week spinning the old Beasties albums and filling a gap in my profile.

Next up, and this week’s featured band, is The The. Despite their really annoying name, I’ve loved this band right from the start (well, I never really dug Burning Blue Soul and still don’t, but that was originally released as a Matt Johnson solo album). I shan’t go on about them, just to say that Matt’s one of my favourite lyricists of all time and I’ve always really related to his words and the music. “The future is now, and it’s all going wrong; bodies queue for nothing for it’s to nothing they belong”, etc.

Annie Massie is a young Scots lass who plays a variety of instruments really, really well. I first saw her at the Celtic Connections festival in Glasgow back in 2004 (I think) and was blown away. She plays mainly in the traditional Scots vein and can flatpick like no other gal I’ve ever seen. And she’s so wee! Her music is terrific and I highly recommend her CD Glad Company. I’ll certainly have her as a featured artist one day.

I’ve mentioned Bert a lot so browse previous last.fm entries. He was my featured artist last week.

Fellow Voxer Bevester inspired me to dig out some Radiohead again. I hadn’t listened to them in a while and it was good to hear them again. Kid A is my favourite with Amnesiac a close second (but they’re all good). Those two albums were a lot of work, and I mean a lot. This is not easy listening and needs repeated spins to get it. But once you get it, it really pays you back, big time!

Lou Reed’s New York was the first CD I ever bought. I enjoy his music and the Velvet Underground a lot. This week I had to share my story at an AA meeting and so played my playlist called Spiritual on the iPod on the way in to town. There’s a song on The Raven called Vanishing Act that is just wonderful. So I listened to that a few times over the last week, along with a lot of other Lou stuff.

Tommy Emmanuel. If you play guitar you should certainly know about Tommy. And if you don’t play, you should still go and see him. One of the best performers I have ever seen.

Nine Inch Nails. I used to listen to them a lot. Pretty Hate Machine got me through some hard times, particularly Something I Can Never Have. Downward Spiral was great. Fixed and Broken rewarded repeated listens but were tough going at times.

Peter Gabriel. Brilliant. Love his solo stuff and Genesis. As with Bowie, his most recent stuff is some of his best in my opinion. Up was terrific!

Beppe Gambetta is an Italian flatpicker. I saw him last night and will write about him there with some audio. I had lessons with him too back in 2005. He’s a really nice guy.

So that’s it for this week. Enjoy the The The tunes (see, told you their name was annoying!) I’ve included two from Shades of Blue since it’s not such a common one (it’s a 4-track EP).

Enjoy!

True Happiness This Way Lies

Jealous of Youth

Out of the Blue (Into the Fire)

Dolphins

QotD: My First Single

Music-wise, what was the first 45, single or download you bought?
Submitted by Paddy Melt Wagon.

The first single I bought was a double A side by the Specials in 1981: Ghost Town [YouTube] and Rat Race [YouTube]. I got it by using tokens from crisp packets. I think the deal was that you could get any top 10 single and I’m not sure that I knew what that meant at the time so just bought the number 1 single. It was most definitely a good choice as both tracks have aged very well, Ghost Town in particular (great song). I was 9.

[UK Top 40 – 11 July 1981] (Don’t you just love the Internet!)

1 Specials Ghost Town
2 Michael Jackson One Day In Your
Life
3 Bad Manners Can Can
4 Starsound Stars On 45
(Volume 2)
5 Odyssey Going Back To My
Roots
6 Imagination Body Talk
7 Elaine Paige Memory
8 Smokey Robinson Being With You
9 Bob Marley No Woman No Cry
10 Tom Tom Club Wordy Rappinghood
Ghost Town
Specials

The first single that I remember buying from a shop would be And She Was by Talking Heads. February 1986. I think I got given the money on the day of my grandmother’s funeral and I went up to Woolies and bought it. Yep, I actually kept a diary at that time and I just confirmed that it was 24 February. Apparently I also bought Huey Lewis and the News (I’d forgotten about that – I think it was the album, Fore) and Billy Ocean was at Number 1 (with When the Going Gets Tough I would imagine).

And She Was
Talking Heads
Ah, but I just remembered another single I had, a 12″ this time –
Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam with Full Force – I Wonder If I Take You Home [YouTube]. Seemingly it was out in August 1985 so that comes before the Talking Heads track. I’ll keep the Heads’ track and info there though, since I’ve already researched it!

But now I really must get some work done. Damn you, QoTD!

Looking for lyrics for Tell me What is True Love (Bert Jansch)

I’m working on Bert’s beautiful song, Tell me What is True Love and am having trouble figuring out all the lyrics. Google has been uncharacteristically unhelpful.

Here’s the tune and the lyrics that I’ve figured out.

Tell me what is true love

Tell me how shall I learn?
Shall there be a sign like autumn
That brings the winter and snow?

Well love is like a little boy
Building castles in the sand
And the higher he builds them
The longer they stand

Well if someone lets you down
The white snow [CAN’T FIGURE THIS BIT OUT]
Then your heart is filled with sorrow
With the pain of true love

Any takers?

UPDATE

I posted this question on my own guitar forum and discovered that somebody had asked the same question fairly recently (The forum is unviewable to unregistered users in an attempt to keep spammers and bot signups at bay).

So here, in all their glory, are the complete lyrics:

Tell me, what is true love?

Tell me, how shall I know?

Shall there be a sign, like Autumn

That brings the Winter her snow?

Now love is like a little boy

Building castles in the sand

And the higher he builds them

The longer they stand.

And if someone did shoot down

The white snowy dove

Then your heart is filled with sorrow

Like the pain of true love.

I’ve got the picking pattern down and the chord changes are coming along. There are just two rather pesky chords, but it’s coming. A deceptively difficult tune to play, but ultimately worthwhile!

Weekly last.fm charts (featuring Bert Jansch)

4 Nov 2007 – 11 Nov 2007

11Bert Jansch
93
 2Bill Sheffield
12
 3Katie Melua
4
 4Bucks Fizz
2
 4Cliff Richard
2
 4Culture Club
2
 4Blondie
2
 4Dexy’s Midnight Runners
2
 4Jive Bunny
2
 4David Bowie
2

As suspected, Bert is at the top by a country mile! I have a long history with Bert Jansch. I flicked on the TV back in 1991 and caught the beginning of a documentary called Acoustic Routes. It was all about Bert and featured many songs both of Bert on his tod and playing with others such as Wizz Jones, Duck Baker and Davey Graham. I was blown away by what I saw, particularly the track Angie/Anji and went out the very next weekend and bought my first guitar. I’ve been a fan of Bert ever since and have even learned a few of his songs.

I’ve recently been having a bit of a Bert revival, adding some missing CDs to my collection, including his latest release, The Black Swan (released last year).

I saw him play a couple of years ago at a little theatre in the Scottish borders [The Wynd Theatre]. I went with a friend and we arrived late. The promoter, knowing that I had travelled all the way from Luxembourg to see the gig, took pity on us and put us on seats right on the stage, in the wings. Well how about that ladies and gentlemen! To be honest, I wasn’t that impressed and the same goes for some of his more recent recordings prior to The Black Swan. So I was rather tickled at just how good The Black Swan is. It’s a belter to be sure. Really.

Bert played a big part in the folk revival that took place in London in the 1960s and is one of those people who never made millions or became famous or a household name but who influenced many people who did (including Bob Dylan to a degree, Jimmy Page, Neil Young and more recently Bernard Butler, Johnny Marr and Beth Orton (Beth plays on The Black Swan)).

So, here are three tracks for your enjoyment. The first is the first track from his first album, released in 1965 and entitled simply Bert Jansch. This is one that I can play.

The next is the opening track from The Black Swan, as I said released in 2006, 41 years after his first!

And finally an instrumental, this one from his third album, Jack Orion, released in 1966. This is a belter!

The rest are there because I’ve been having a bit of an 80s revival, so don’t expect Cliff Richard ever to appear on my charts again!

Weekly last.fm charts, featuring Sufjan Stevens

I’m having to create playlists of each day’s iPod tunes at the end of the day to play them when I go to bed so that they get scrobbled. So my iTunes playcount is needlessly increased so that they get scrobbled. When will they fix it? (and yes, iSproggler doesn’t work either).

So, with no further ado, here are this week’s charts before it’s too late.

Top Artists this Week (see more)

28 Oct 2007 – 4 Nov 2007
1Sufjan Stevens
28
2El McMeen
16
2Bert Jansch
16
4Kate Rusby
15
5The Beatles
13
6Pat Walsh
11
6The Rolling Stones
11
8Tony McManus
8
9Scissor Sisters
7
10Adam and the Ants
6

I discovered Sufjan Stevens on Vox. A few people have posted tunes from this album and I’ve liked them all so it was an obvious jump to get the album. It’s really very good.

El McMeen is a guitar hero of mine. I had a lesson from him once at his home in NJ. I can play a few of his arrangements. He makes it sound so easy.

Bert Jansch is the reason that I play guitar. I’m having a bit of a Bert festival these last few weeks. Expect him at the top next week.

Kate Rusby sings folk songs in an English accent. I was surprised to discover that the purists don’t rate her. What is it with the music police? I think she’s doing great things for British folk.

Can’t beat the Beatles.

Pat Walsh – see last week’s charts for a tune.

The Stones – along with the Beatles, played during lunch time to “teach” Freya what’s good. No doubt she’ll end up liking something that we won’t and we’ll say things like “that’s not music… call that music? … it’s just noise … turn it down… etc.” Isn’t that the way of things?

Scissor Sisters – I was desperately seeking something to help with my most hated weekly event: the weekly shop. This was the nearest thing I could get to hit the spot, but it still wasn’t quite right. Not sure where I stand on them actually.

Adam and the Ants – I have a long history with Adam and his Ants. The first album I bought was Prince Charming and I’ve always rated him. His albums were remastered quite recently with bonus tracks and they have dated very well actually.

So that’s it for this week. Enjoy a Sufjan track. Well, why not? This one made me think a little of Charlie Brown music.

The Tallest Man, The Broadest Shoulders, Pt. 1.