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mp3eme VOX: Digital Display

 Post  a song that references a number in any way/shape/form 

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I’ve listened to this a few times already this week so it sprang right to mind for this week’s mp3eme. A beautiful song that only Kate Bush could have got away with!

Pi
Kate Bush

Duck Baker — Concert and Workshop

I was familiar with Duck Baker right from the very beginning. I bought my first guitar after seeing a documentary about Bert Jansch (called Acoustic Routes) back in 1991. Duck was on that documentary and also on the soundtrack. I then got the two compilation CDs, Ramble to Cashel and the Blarney Pilgrim, both of which have Duck on them. I then got another compilation which Duck is on: Irish Reels, Jigs, Airs And Hornpipes. I’d never seen him perform before though, so I jumped at the chance when I heard that he was playing a house concert not too far my my house. And better still — he was offering a workshop!

The Blood of the Lamb

So, two Sundays ago I drove down to the Moselle (river bordering Lux and Germany) with my guitar, all ready for a workshop with Duck. There were 5 of us in all, so a nice small group.

The first thing I really noticed about Duck was his sense of humour. He’s a funny guy and has a typically British sense of humour. He likes to talk as well and it wasn’t long before we were all at ease.

After he gauged our level, he showed us a picking pattern based on a tune of his called Holding Pattern. It was one of those patterns that looks easy but is far from it. It was quite challenging actually, but ultimately worth while for improving right-hand independence. We also went through his arrangement of Amazing Grace, which is actually amazingly graceful. Very nice indeed.

We stopped for lunch and then it was time for the concert. It was one of the most enjoyable solo guitar performances I’ve seen. I’ve come really to enjoy small and intimate concerts far more than I do stadium gigs. Seeing Duck play in someone’s living room was a rare treat. He played a mixture of old timey American folk, some blues, some jazz, gospel and traditional Scots and Irish music. He also explained the songs really well and used a lot of humour. I would go and see him again in a heartbeat and even spoke with him about visiting him in London for some lessons. Highlights for me were the Blood of the Lamb and 40 Ton Parachute (both of which are on the Acoustic Routes documentary, although 40 Ton Parachute is played by Davey Graham).

All in all, a great day!

Pierre Bensusan, L’Inoui, 26 June 2007

I’ve been listening to Pierre’s music for a few years now and find him to be utterly incomparable. The first CD of his that I bought was Intuite. Little did I know at that time that it was the first completely solo fingerstyle CD he had released. I listened to it over and over and finally got a chance to go and see him play at a little theatre in the Scottish borders. It was a great gig: quite small and reasonably intimate. I was surprised to hear him singing though. Not only did he sing some songs in his native French and English, but he also did some really cool scat singing.

Thereafter I started going back through his earlier works and discovered that he’s evolved quite a bit to get to where he is today. He started out playing bluegrass and traditional Scots/Irish.

I then went to see him at a festival in northern France where he did an 8-hour workshop over the course of two days. That was a real eye-opener and I got a lot out of it. Some of the stretching exercises he showed us are REALLY tough but well worthwhile.

My favourite concert venue is L’Inoui, a little café in the north of Luxembourg. It seats around 50 I would guess. It’s good to arrive a little early and have a candlelit meal before the performance begins. The food there is really good, too. Since I’m pretty much a regular there, I don’t feel so cheeky requesting a table at the front. This time it worked our perfectly. I was right in front of Pierre and could watch his fingers intently.

Falafel À Montségur
Pierre Bensusan

He was playing with a stand-up bass player whose name I can’t remember and who didn’t add a great deal to the gig in my humble opinion. He began with Hymn 11, one of my firm favourites of his. I plan to learn it at some point as it is one of the two pieces that he requests that potential students learn for his 7-day residential seminar (the other is the equally beautiful L’Alchimiste).

Intuite
Pierre Bensusan

The highlights for me were the two north-African tunes, Intuite and Falafel À Montségur. He began the second set with these and played them solo. I didn’t really get these tunes at the beginning, but, the more I listened to them, the more they got under my skin. I’ve recently come really to enjoy the music of Anouar Brahem and it’s in a similar vein. It was a real pleasure to watch him play these from such a short distance; truly mesmerising. He didn’t play any traditional Scots or Irish tunes during the set but more than made up for it in the encore; he played a medley of marches, jigs and reels that lasted about 15 minutes!

Celtic Suite
Pierre Bensusan

I spoke to him during the break and he remembered me from the workshop in France! That was cool. He then said at the end that he was thinking of me when he played the encore. Thanks Pierre!

All in all, it was the gig to surpass all gigs that I’ve seen so far at L’Inoui (including Don Ross, Beppe Gambetta, Dan Crary and Peter Finger). It has me thinking that I really ought to sign up for one of his residential seminars this year. The August one is too soon, so maybe I’ll try for the next one, probably in May.

I recorded the gig onto my iPod using a Belkin TuneTalk mic. I forgot to switch on the autogain, but still it hasn’t come out too badly.

Genesis gig – Brussels, 24 June 2007

Genesis – Dress Rehersal, originally uploaded by vacationland.

20 years after my first ever concert, which was Genesis Invisible Touch tour at Hampden park, Glasgow, in 1987, I get to go and see them again at another stadium, this time the Stade Roi Baudouin in Brussels.

It was really very civilised around the stadium, not at all what I’m used to at big gigs. There were no crowds hanging around outside, and there were loads of seats in the bar. Not like a Glasgow gig at all, really!

The gig itself was really good. We had reasonably good seats off to the right of the stage, but even from that relatively short distance, the band wasn’t really visible and we watched a lot of it on the oval screen off to the side. We couldn’t see the main screen due to its being in a sort of wave shape. A bit annoying really.

Musically it was pretty much as I expected. There were some weak points (Hold on my Heart, Follow You Follow Me) but generally speaking it was really good. The highlights for me were Home By the Sea and Domino
— parts 2 of both of these were really good. I enjoyed all the Invisible Touch tunes, as that was my era. And I Can’t Dance was surprisingly good – that song stands out on that album. It was good to hear Ripples live too — the only tune that isn’t on any other live album of theirs.

The statutory drum duet was really good, too. They began that by playing on chairs before moving on to the drums.

Here’s the set list:

Behind The Lines / Duke’s End
Turn It On Again
No Son Of Mine
Land Of Confusion
In The Cage / The Cinema Show / Duke’s Travels
Afterglow
Hold On My Heart
Home By The Sea / Second Home By The Sea
Follow You Follow Me
Firth Of Fifth / I Know What I Like
Mama
Ripples
Throwing It All Away
Domino
Drum Duet
Los Endos
Tonight Tonight Tonight
Invisible Touch

I Can’t Dance

The Carpet Crawlers

All in all it was a great gig and well worth the long drive to and from Brussels (even including the nightmare that was the Brussels ring road after the gig). Was tucked up in bed by 3.30 am.

Albums of the week and a bit about my history with Genesis

The Muse research I did for a week prior to the gig last month has changed the way I listen to music. A week before I decided to go to the Muse gig, I knew only one of their albums, and that one not very well. So I got hold of their other three and spent an entire week listening to all four albums as much as I could. It paid off big time and the gig was one of the best I’ve been to. I knew every song they played and now I’m listening to them a lot (twice through Absolution today — awesome album!)

The thing with the Muse albums was that I only had a week and so the albums weren’t really distinct in my mind. It was more like one big album really and, being an album kind of guy, I like to listen to entire albums from start to finish.

So, what I’ve decided to do is, when I get a new album, I’ll listen to it through several times during the course of a week so that I can become familiar with it.

The girl I went to see Muse with is a U2 fanatic and so I thought I would listen to U2’s albums, starting from the beginning. I’m also going to see Genesis in Brussels on the 24th so have been filling up the holes in my Genesis collection with iTunes Plus (DRM-free at last!).

I got a pile of freelance translation work through from an agency a couple of weeks ago and our almost-one-year-old likes to fall asleep to music in the afternoon. So it’s a perfect time to put on an album on repeat and get as much work done as I can. I can also listen to music in the evenings when I’m translating. After a few listens in the background as I work, I become familiar with the music, but it’s still not enough. So, after the familiarisation process, it’s time to start listening a bit more intently and seeking out some lyrics. Wikipedia also gets a visit (both U2 and Genesis have fairly comprehensive Wikipedia entries).

So, this week’s albums are U2’s first album, Boy, released in 1980, and Genesis’ album from 1976, A Trick of the Tail.

From the very start of Boy, it’s apparent that you’re listening to U2 and couldn’t be anyone else. It’s got a raw, sort of unpolished sound to it, but for a début album from a bunch of kids, which they pretty much were at the time, it’s really quite astonishing. I did have a passing familiarity with U2, having had the Joshua Tree on cassette back in the day and had a taped copy of Achtung Baby. For some reason, I never really followed up, even though I liked what I’d heard. So I guess in some ways, there was a large U2-sized hole in my musical knowledge. Boy sounds very much of its time, and to that end, a bit dated. So it’s fun to come at it as a newcomer almost 30 years later. It was well worth spending a week on this album and it’s whetted my appetite for the following albums.

I’ve been a Genesis fan since Invisible Touch back in 1987. In fact, the first concert I ever went to was the Invisible Touch tour at Hampden Park in Glasgow. At the time, all I had was Invisible Touch, but the concert was played on Radio 1 soon afterwards, so I taped it and listened to it over and over for years.

After that, I got Genesis (1983) and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway (1975). I loved both and used to listen to them on my Walkman. I grew to love the Lamb a lot and used to try and force it on whomever I happened to be with after a few bevvies. It’s not for everyone of course. It’s a journey into the mind of Peter Gabriel, which is a weird and wonderful place. The next album I bought, and the last one until recently, was Selling England by the Pound (1973), which I also loved.

So, that’s my history with Genesis pretty much.

Not too long ago, I reclaimed Invisible Touch from my brother and was in seventh heaven belting out all those songs and being caught up in a flood of memories. Then I found out, after blogging about my first ever concert, that they’re touring again with Phil Collins. Long story short, I scored some premium tickets on eBay for half-price for the gig in Brussels on 24 June.

Then Apple announced the DRM-free iTunes and it was time to get some more Genesis albums. I got Duke, Foxtrot, We Can’t Dance and A Trick of the Tail. I’ve listened to them all, but I decided to spend the week with A Trick of the Tail.

It was released in 1976 and was the first album after the departure of Peter Gabriel following The Lamb. It still sounds quite Gabriel-esque; it’s quirky as ever with weird lyrics, and ever-changing time signatures. All in all, I love it. I knew Los Endos from the 87 gig but what I didn’t know was that they used a lot of bits and pieces from this (and other) albums in the medleys they played in 87. It was a pleasant surprise!

So, all in all, it’s been a good week. Next week I’ll be working on U2’s second album, October, and need to figure out what Genesis one to work on. In fact, I’ll probably work on two Genesis albums as I only have two weeks until the gig. So I’ll do something old and something new, so that they don’t meld in my mind. I’ll keep the U2 one to add some balance.

This is fun!

mp3eme VOX: Tickle The Ivories

PIANO

 It can have piano in the title…

be referenced in the song…
or play a big part in melody of the tune.
Hell…it can even be song that reminds you of the Piano lessons you took as a kid.
We ain’t picky.

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This one jumped right to mind as soon as I saw the new theme. I love the piano solo played by Jools Holland on this track from The The’s 1983 album, Soul Mining. 
Uncertain Smile
The The

 

Two of Us

I asked a girl at work if she would be up for a duet at the next speak easy and she nervously agreed. She’s used to singing in a choir but seems rather nervous of singing a duet at an informal open mic. I love the Beatles’ song, Two of Us (from Let it Be) and it’s a really good song for two voices.

I told C that I would record the song for her twice and burn it to CD so that she can practice — once through I’d sing melody and the second time, harmony. I just threw them together tonight, singing and playing guitar into my LD condenser mic switched to the omni pattern and thought I’d try putting the two tracks together, pan one left and the other right and see how it came out. It’s a bit rough and ready but it sounds quite good. So I thought I’d Vox it for fun. Enjoy!

Two of Us
Cams Campbell

Got some Wonderstuff CDs

Play tune whilst reading…

I was a big fan of the Wonder Stuff back in the late 80s/early 90s. I got to thinking about them after the Muse gig a couple of weeks ago, mainly because the Muse gig was the first time in years that I had pogo danced and, after the gig, I got to talking with the girl I went with about Brit pop and what came before Blur and Oasis. She’s 10 years younger than me and wasn’t brought up in the UK, so she was really keen to hear about it.

I’ve spent a while since the Muse gig reading up on Brit Pop and the Grebo phenomenon on Wikipedia, as well as shoegazing and various other musical phenomena that I was part of. Wikipedia is really quite good for this kind of stuff.

So, to the Wonder Stuff. My favourite album of theirs was always Never Loved Elvis from 1991. That was about when I started playing the acoustic guitar and it’s quite an acoustic album. I saw them live once at the Magnum in Irvine (August 1992) and was on crutches at the time — no pogoing then. In fact, I watched from the balcony. It was a great gig though.

Track from their first album (Eight Legged Groove Machine – 1988)

It's Yer Money
The Wonder Stuff

I started poking around on Amazon and saw that their early stuff had been remastered on CD with bonus tracks and for cheaper than an album costs on iTunes. So I ordered Eight Legged Groove Machine, Hup and Never Loved Elvis. Then I noticed that they had a new album out! Well knock me down with a feather! So I added that to my order along with the first Pop Will Eat Itself CD (Box Frenzy — 1987). They all arrived to day and I’ve been bopping away to Never Loved Elvis for a good couple of hours.

I have quite a lot of 80s and 90s music on CD and enjoy listening to it whilst acknowledging wholeheartedly that a lot of it is utter rubbish (Howard Jones anyone?) But I enjoy it for nostalgic reasons and for the memories that it brings back. Not so with the Wonder Stuff though. If anything, they sound completely modern. Never Loved Elvis is jam packed with mandolin, fiddle and some banjo — not something that you find very much of in Brit Pop, but there it is.

The Wonder Stuff were influential and I would go so far as to say that they were ahead of their time. It was a great time for music and it seems to be getting that way again now with the slow decline of Pop Idol and Fame Academy type stuff. Andrew Lloyd Weber seems to have inherited all that and he’s welcome to it!

mp3eme VOX – One Hit Wonders

How about this for a great track! It’s taken me much of the morning to get it into a format that would upload but I got there in the end!

Enjoy!

 

 

mp3eme VOX: One Hit Wonders

Trapped

Colonel Abrams

The 80s were rife with OHWs. I had trouble picking one out — almost went for Paul Hardcastle’s n-n-n-n-19 but, for me, this tune captures the period perfectly. BMX bikes and ZX Spectrums – yay!