WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . .

Strange, eccentric and sometimes mad people or unusual events in the music world.

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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HASIL ADKINS: Howling at the night

27 May 2019  |  2 min read

Whatever his style was, fame had no interest in embracing it. The closest this rockabilly blues screamer -- who started in the mid Fifties -- came to wider recognition was when the Cramps covered his song She Said and some of his music appeared in the film White Lightin'. But for Hasil (pronounced "hassle"), he just had to make do with juke joints and bars, and being a punk rocker... > Read more

She Said (1955)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . SPELLING ON THE STONE: The King is dead, long live the king?

20 May 2019  |  1 min read

Of the innumerable "Elvis is Alive" hoaxes, the song Spelling on the Stone of 1989 has to count as having one of the best/funniest back-stories. So let's get this right: Elvis wanted you to believe he was just pretending to be dead . . . but he really wanted you to know he was alive by singing this song? That just like, sooooo, doesn't work. Right?  Good song though:... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LA MONTE YOUNG AND HIS WELL TUNED PIANO: The master of minimalism, and more

15 May 2019  |  5 min read

When John Cale went to New York from Wales in the early Sixties it wasn’t with the intention of meeting up with Lou Reed to form the Velvet Underground, but to study under a pianist/composer who had literally been “born in a log cabin” in the small community of Bern, Idaho. By the late Sixties that composer, La Monte Young, was in the vanguard of the minimalist movement... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MARZETTE WATTS: Everywhere I hear the sound of . . .

22 Apr 2019  |  4 min read  |  1

Should anyone doubt the close connection between American free jazz and the rise of radical black politics in the Sixties they only need to look to the life of saxophonist Marzette Watts. However Watts -- who died in early '98 a week short of his 50th birthday -- gets barely a footnote in any jazz histories. His name is usually just as part of a list which includes Ornette Coleman, Marion... > Read more

Geno

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . DON CUNNINGHAM'S SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE: Exotic and erotic lounge-jazz in a Playboy world

8 Apr 2019  |  3 min read

Some albums come with a great back-story. There have been books written about Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue and John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. The recording of a Britney Spears album might not be quite so interesting, although the picture book or dress-me-up doll might have some market value. And as Britney proves, you cannot judge the quality of an album by the enticement of its... > Read more

Don Cunningham Quartet: Quiet Village

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HELEN SHAPIRO: And the next stop from pop?

1 Apr 2019  |  5 min read  |  1

Neil Sedaka saw his career over within weeks: "The mood was new music. I'd just had five years of top-10 records all over the world, and then . . . I thought my career was over. I was 23." For Tony Orlando the news he was finished came abruptly after two huge pop hits in '61: “I was in an elevator listening to one of my songs on the radio and I hear the DJ say, ‘That... > Read more

Walkin' Back to Happiness

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JOE MEEK'S I HEAR A NEW WORLD: Checked out in a moonage daydream

18 Mar 2019  |  5 min read

Right up until the time he redecorated his recording studio-cum-living room with the contents of his skull after a self-inflicted shotgun blast in 1967, British producer Joe Meek heard the world differently. In the late Fifties and early Sixties most British producers were just technicians who pushed “record” once the artist was in front of the microphone. Certainly Phil... > Read more

Glob Waterfall

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE PIPKINS: From the people who brought you . . .

4 Feb 2019  |  3 min read

You are allowed to smirk in contemptuous admiration at British popular taste, it knows no depths to its shamelessness. This is the nation which gave us Carry On films, cringe-inducing television (Mind Your Language, On the Buses) and thinks nothing of putting gimmick songs and weak humour to the top of its charts (Benny Hill to Bob the Builder). This from a country which gave us the... > Read more

The People Dat You Wanna Phone Ya

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . Z'EV: He bangs the drum, and then some

2 Jan 2019  |  3 min read

When a couple of writers from the then-recently launched Re/Search tabloid went to visit the experimental percussionist known as Z'EV in 1981, the conversation was esoteric and philosophical. The fact Z'EV banged on odd objects to make a noise hardly entered the discussion. Re/Search – which was founded by V. Vale in San Francisco after his influential punk rock mag Search and... > Read more

Piece H, from My Favourite Things

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JAMES REESE EUROPE: Taking dance music to war

5 Nov 2018  |  5 min read

When the 39-year old conductor/composer James Reese Europe was stabbed by one of his drummers, Herbert Wright, and subsequently died, it cut short an already remarkable career and one which seemed poised to go on the greater things. That was in May 1919 and 14 months before he and his black orchestra – the Hellfighters Band – had undertaken a five-week tour of Europe traveling... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . EVIE SANDS: Ever the bridesmaid

17 Sep 2018  |  3 min read

When the pub quiz question comes up, be prepared: The guy who wrote Wild Thing, Chip Taylor, is the brother of actor Jon Voight and therefore the uncle of Angelina Jolie. For bonus points, he also wrote the country song Angel of the Morning which was a big hit for Merrilee Rush and further popularised by Olivia Newton-John and Juice Newton. Unfortunately it wasn't a hit for the first... > Read more

Women in Prison

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . ZZ HILL: Suited up for Soulville

18 Aug 2018  |  2 min read

Arzell Hill was a soul and blues singer who came to serious attention in the early Eighties with his crossover hits Cheating in the Next Room and the terrific Down Home Blues. He was in his mid Forties at the time and had been recording two decades, mostly with little success beyond admiration and critical appreciation. It was dreadful tragedy then that just two years after he was enjoying... > Read more

Nothing Takes the Place of You

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MAL EVANS: In the court of the kings

2 Jul 2018  |  4 min read

In January 1976 when the four LA police were called to a disturbance in a motel they were confronted by a huge, semi-naked man who was angry, seemingly high and out of control . . . and carrying what they took to be a firearm. When he wouldn't drop the weapon – an air rifle as it happened – they shot him dead. And so ended the life of Mal Evans, at just 40; a bit player but... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE KIPPER KIDS: The theatre of cruelty and farting

28 May 2018  |  2 min read

The fair-enough question might be “Who the hell are the Kipper Kids?”. But for those who know of them it's more likely, “Do we really have to talk about the Kipper Kids?” This duo who came to attention in America in the late Seventies/early Eighties opened for the Rolling Stones and Public Image Ltd, performed at the Munich Olympics and got their first big break on... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . CHAPPAQUA (2018): Ornette, Ravi and Rooks at a strange crossroad

5 May 2018  |  6 min read

Think: What if you made a movie -- your personal story of an emotional and dependency struggle -- so very dear to your heart. But no one went to see it? Now maybe here's perhaps something worse: What if you wrote the soundtrack for that movie . . . and then the director decided not to use it and got someone else – someone completely different – to do it? In the... > Read more

Chappaqua (by Ravi Shankar)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . CHARLEY PATTON: A riddle wrapped in an enigma

12 Feb 2018  |  5 min read

So little is really known about Charley Patton that people have had to fill in the gaps with belief, rumour and myth. The date of his birth in south Mississippi can only be located somewhere between 1881 and 1891 (although consensus is forming around the latter), and it seems the man who raised him and whose name he took was not his natural father. And even his first name is... > Read more

High Water Everywhere (Part 2)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . EVERYDAY CHEMISTRY: The Beatles beamed in from beyond

29 Jan 2018  |  2 min read

The story began on a desert highway in California on September 9, 2009 – coincidentally the same day the Beatles reissued their remastered catalogue – and it involved a runaway dog, its owner falling down and rendered unconscious then him waking up in a room with a guy called Jonas who told him he was now in a parallel universe. And that's not even the weird part.... > Read more

Over the Ocean

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . LORRAINE CROSBY: To Hell, and back to the bingo halls

4 Dec 2017  |  3 min read

When Simon Cowell kicked Lorraine Crosby off the second round of the UK X Factor competition in 2005 saying she lacked “star quality”, he may well have been right. But she could certainly sing. Well, she could back in '93 when she'd been a key voice on the biggest selling single of that year, and was the voice – but not the face – in the bombastic,... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . EDEN AHBEZ: Come and see the real thing . . .

13 Nov 2017  |  5 min read

With the appearance of the New Zealand alt.folk singer who goes by the name of Arthur Ahbez – whose albums touches on world music, have a free-flowing quality and are somewhat trippy – we are reminded that there was an earlier "Ahbez". He was the wonderful Eden Ahbez – after whom our Young Pretender has perhaps named himself – and he is worth more than... > Read more

Tradewind, from Eden's Island

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WOULD YOU BELIEVE: Care for Pet Sounds inna English accent, guv'nor?

25 Sep 2017  |  3 min read

In the second part of his 2002 autobiography 2Stoned, Andrew Loog Oldham – manager and sometime producer of the young Stones, founder of Immediate Records and more – wrote about the profound impact the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds had on him. He had managed the Stones through the madness of those early years when they were being belted by the British media and the... > Read more

Feeling Easy