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 . . . 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

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . MIDORI TAKADA: Through a glass, brightly

18 Sep 2017  |  2 min read

It's a given these days. The moment you write about a musician who exists in an obscure corner of the mainstream world – or has absolutely no presence there at all – then someone in the internet world will weigh in telling you about their longtime fandom, offer footnotes, advance the better album you should have referenced and so on . . . Well, let's open the discussion on... > Read more

Blue Fox: Midori Tanaka and JPC Percussion Ensemble

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . HUGUES PANASSIE: Writing a line through jazz

14 Aug 2017  |  3 min read

Depending on what angle you look at Hugues Panassie from, the Parisian was either jazz's greatest European advocate and instigator in the Thirties and Forties. Or he was a divisive and opinionated cuss whose dogmatic writing and dismissal of many artists shoved an unwelcome wedge between styles and musicians. As with so many purists – Ken Colyer in Britain in the Fifties,... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . RAY CATHODE: Electronic pioneer or just another knob twiddler?

17 Jul 2017  |  1 min read

In the encyclopedias of electronic music one name stands out for its absence, that of the British experimenter, producer and musician Ray Cathode who, in the very early Sixties, made two revolutionary pieces of music. Regrettably they were the only two he made, but they were with the innovative and acclaimed BBC Radiophonic Orchestra which created the extraordinary and distinctive... > Read more

Waltz in Orbit

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . JEANNE DECKERS: From heaven to oblivion on the wings of a song

14 Jul 2017  |  6 min read

When the virginal singer Jeanne Deckers – sometimes Jeannine -- enjoyed a sudden hit in the early Sixties it was clear to anyone outside her circle that her career could only go one of two ways. The first was that she would struggle to follow it up, her life would become a series of disappointments and she would be only remembered as a one-hit wonder. The other path was that... > Read more

Dominique

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . TOMMY QUICKLY: The career that couldn't be created

2 Jul 2017  |  1 min read

At the end of '63 the fresh and freckle-faced 18-year old Tommy Quickly was standing at the door of his dreams: he'd been signed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein (who had changed his name from Quigley in the manner of manager Larry Parnes' school of stage names like Vince Eager, Marty Wilde and Billy Fury) and was tipped for massive success. His first single Tip of My Tongue was even a... > Read more

Tip of my Tongue

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . THE DISCO SUCKS MOVEMENT: Divide and . . . conk out

26 Jun 2017  |  6 min read

It’s both easy and hard to explain the rise of the Disco Sucks movement at the end of the Seventies. In some parts of the world the zenith of disco coincided with the emergence of punk, and two more diametrically opposed styles could hardly be imagined. For the most part disco was chic, sleek, well-dressed, celebratory and precision crafted music. Punk was . . . pretty much... > Read more

Love Epidemic, by the Trammps (DJ Reverend P edit)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . WILLIS ALAN RAMSEY: The love song of two semi-aquatic rodents

14 Apr 2017  |  4 min read  |  1

When Dave Marsh and James Bernard published their brick-sized New Book of Rock Lists in the mid Nineties they included categories such as Artists Critics Believe Can Do No Wrong (topped by Arrested Development, the Beatles, James Brown but oddly enough not including Lou Reed) and 25 People Who Quit or Were Fired Before Their Groups Became Famous (Signe Anderson of Jefferson Airplane).... > Read more

Sympathy for a Train, with Jamie Oldaker (2005)

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . GARY WILSON: The retro avant-garde artist at play

10 Apr 2017  |  1 min read

When Beck name-checked Gary Wilson in his '96 song Where It's At, the reference understandably went right past most people: Wilson hadn't recorded an album since '77 and that one, You Think You Really Know Me, had way fewer than 1000 copies pressed on release. Wilson was a cult figure like few others. Equally influenced by lounge music (his father was a jazz bassist and played in lounge... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . DEUTSCHE WERTARBEIT: Presenting, the one and only . . .

6 Mar 2017  |  4 min read

For way more than a decade, the sole album attributed to Deutsche Wertarbeit – which translates from the German as “German Craftsmanship” or “German quality” – was almost impossible to find. And even when it was finally reissued on CD in the mid Nineties it went past most people.  Released in 1981 and locating itself somewhere between... > Read more

Der Grosse Atem