WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . .

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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 . . . 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: 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 . . . 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 . . . 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)