I am truly saddened by the death of Mark E Smith of the Fall. He was one of the alternative music scenes greatest talents. He passed away at home and according to his manager more details will follow in the next few days. He was hospitalised with significant respiratory issues on the Fall’s US tour last year and back in the UK he completed some dates in a wheelchair. At this stage there is no way of knowing whether any of this was connected with his demise. Mark formed the Fall after seeing the now infamous Sex Pistols gig at the Manchester Free Trade Hall in 1976, they became a fixture in British music following the release of their debut EP ‘The Bingo-Masters Break Out’ in 1978. The band released 32 studio albums from ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ in 1979 to last year’s ‘New Facts Emerge’. They issued a similar number of live albums and more than 40 compilations. Smith was the only constant member of the Fall, around 60 different people played in the band over the years. He was an influence on many, many artists including Brett Anderson of Suede, Tim Burgess of the Charlatans and Billy Bragg. John Peel was a great champion and fan of the Fall, he once said “They are always different, they are always the same”, that strikes me as a very fitting epitaph. RIP Mark E Smith, you will be sadly missed. My thoughts go to Mark’s family, friends and fans.
Damon Albarn is currently the only man to headline Glastonbury two years in a row. With Blur in 2009 and then with Gorillaz the following year. Now this made me wonder how many people have headlined the festival, or indeed any festival, with more than two acts. I guess it’s possible that Damon could also headline as a solo artist in the future too. I’m looking forward to your contributions here dear readers 🙂
I realise that I’m a couple of days late with this post but I couldn’t let the passing of such a musical giant as Bobby Womack go without saying anything. The first music genre I really got into was soul music. I recall reading about the likes of Bobby Womack in Blues & Soul magazine in the early 70s. My lifelong friend Glen Voisey and me used to frequent an excellent, though long since defunct, record shop at Rayners Lane called The Bop Shop. They had racks and racks of second-hand vinyl and I remember buying Womack’s “Harry Hippie” and “Across 110th Street” on 7 inch vinyl without previously having heard either track. Initially I had just read how great the man was. I was not disappointed; “Across 110th Street” remains one of my favourite songs. How can anyone not love “The Poet II” album?
Bobby was not only a great singer and guitarist (Jimi Hendrix was a fan of his playing) he was also a great songwriter. Other people recorded some fantastic interpretations of his songs. Notably for me is Millie Jackson’s version of “If You Want My Love, Put Something Down On It”, which he wrote with his brother Cecil. The Rolling Stones clearly valued his talent having a big hit in 1964 with “It’s All Over Now” a song written by Bobby and Shirley Womack and recorded by one of Bobby’s early groups the Valentinos. Womack was also a great interpreter of other people’s songs too, his version of “California Dreamin'” is testament to that. Bobby has recorded and released great music for more than 50 years. he has worked with the likes of Sam Cooke back in the 60s right through to Damon Albarn with the Gorillaz and his last solo album “The Bravest Man In The Universe” released in 2012. Bobby will be sadly missed and my thoughts are with his family, friends and his legions of fans. Bobby Womack RIP
So here we are on another UK Public Holiday weekend and guess what? It’s raining. Someone once said to me that there is an easy way to tell when it’s summer in the UK. Do you know how? Well it’s quite simple really, the rain is warm! So here I am stuck indoors so I thought I’d put together a slightly random post that captures a lot of the stuff I have been meaning to blog about for a while, so here goes.
Firstly way back on the 13th May I finally got to see my son Luke play a gig with his band Steal The Smile. They were the second band on that night in the FaceBar at Reading. The band on before them were, and I’m being nice here, in need of an awful lot more practice. Apologies to the bands that followed, but we left for some scoff at TGI Fridays! Steal The Smile played a great six song set which included some of their older and newer stuff along with the obligatory Blink 182 cover. I can tell you that all the boys in the band are looking forward to seeing Blink at the Reading Festival in August. It was a real pity that Steal The Smile were once again badly let down by a promoter in that they had to hang around for three hours for a sound check that never actually materialised and by the time they played there were nowhere near as many people as there could have been. The band wasn’t paid for this gig, but I bet the promoter was! What is it with promoters, and I use the term loosely here, who simply book a venue and some bands and do bugger all else? Is it a stupid assumption that promoters ought to promote? I think not! So if there are any good promoters out there (i.e those with brain cells that at least run into double figures) then get in touch with the boys and book them! You can find them on Facebook and MySpace. Keep visiting too, as there is a revamp being lined up and possibly a lot of new stuff!
Steal The Smile live at the FaceBar in Reading May 13th 2010
There were a couple of quite amusing moments during their set. Firstly the sound guy was trying to speak to them over the sound of the music and clearly couldn’t make himself heard. It did make me wonder how much he actually knew about sound! So finally Luke just gave the instruction “Articulate” like a rock n roll Dalek, needless to say there was still no response from Mr Sound. The other part was just before the final song when Luke said “This is the point in the show where I usually tell the audience how beautiful they are. But with a large part of the audience being my Dad it seemed a bit strange” Johnny then made a point of telling me that he thought I was beautiful, hmmmmm I worry about the drummer! Finally on Steal The Smile for now, it’s not too late to get hold of an exclusive free song from them, just click here for a previous post of mine to get your mitts on it!
Next up Glastonbury has lost U2 this year thanks to Mr Hewson’s back problems, which were apparently quite serious. Anyway there is a little silver lining in that their replacement will be the Gorillaz. In their current incarnation the Gorillaz contain not one, but two, former members of the best band ever; the Clash! yes Mick Jones and Paul Simonon are both in the touring band and bizarrely wearing sailors hats as part of the new album Plastic Beach’s nautical theme. I think I may have to get a hold of some tickets for their tour later this year. Read the BBC article on the revised Glasto line up here. Below you can watch the video for the first single from Plastic Beach, it’s called “Stylo” and features Damon Albarn, Mos Def and Bobby Womack
On May 24th there was the news of the tragic death of Slipknot bassist Paul Gray aged just 38. I have taken some stick from many Slipknot fans in the past for using an incorrect picture of them without masks, but whilst that has been a bit of fun and banter I am sure all fans of the band are pretty upset and hurt by his death. To lose a music hero is not pleasant, I know how I felt on hearing about the death of John Lennon, Bob Marley and Joe Strummer. So my sympathies go to Paul Gray’s friends and family and to all Slipknot fans around the world. In his memory here are the band with the video for “Psychosocial”
Yesterday saw the sad news that Gary Coleman the diminutive star of the US sitcom ‘Diffr’nt Strokes has died. He had kidney problems all his life which meant he never grew above 4 feet 8 inches. His most famous catch phrase from the show was “What you talking about Willis?” Willis being his older brother in the show. Hed was clearly popular in the music fraternity too as the testimonials on the NME report of his death show. Kind words from Blink 182, Janet Jackson and Katy Perry
And finally for this post, have you seen the new Miike Snow video, for his song ‘The Rabbit’? It’s really strange. It has a bearded kid and a re-enactment of a 2 Live Crew album cover. Click here to see it. Let me know what you think of it