B, is for Beat Happening and Black Sabbath…

I am certainly not adverse to a little Ronnie James Dio era Black Sabbath, I think he brought them bang up to date, Metal wise, when he joined them.
His “more is more” ethos, to paraphrase Yngwie J. Malmsteen, arguable makes him the Jim Steinman of the Metal world. And Neon Nights is right up in my Top track one, Side one’s of Metal albums.

Olympia , Washington’s Beat Happening are pretty much the polar opposite of this Sabbath album , both are 80’s albums, but that where the similarities stop dead !
This record is full of DIY simplicity and proto-grunge ethos of the the north west music scene of the time.

Misery Loves Company

“What came first, the music or the misery?” Muses  Rob Gordon in High Fidelity, was he miserable because he listened to pop music or did pop music make him miserable he wonders.

In Rob’s case as in mine, working in a music shop does give you a world weary distain for most things and most people. Oh, and turning you into a towering music snob.

Misrerabilist Alt-Country out fit Richmond Fontaine tread a steady path of music dealing with death, car wrecks, drugs, murder, prison, gambling, homelessness , yet perhaps leaving the listener feeling somewhat relieved that their life is not so bad after all, in line with the “they do it so we don’t have to” school of thinking.

2004’s Winnemucca contains all of the above in spades and includes the track “5 Degrees Below Zero” …… “sitting towards the back of a Greyhound, he sits next to an overweight lady with metal braces on both her legs, and she sits there coughing” has got to rank up there with anything ever written by Porter Wagoner…

The West Of Memphis soundtrack by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is no soundtrack to any fictional miscarriage of justice, child murder, or people from the wrong side of the tracks , it is the soundtrack to the documentary centring on  three young men from West Memphis, Arkansas falsely accused of murdering three 8 year old boys in May 1993.

The documentary by Amy Berg is  powerful , shocking and in part uplifting, in that the three men are rightly freed after years being falsely imprisoned. Cave and Ellis provide a suitable , beautiful and resonant soundtrack to the whole tragic affair.

“Casino light’s, they only bring darkness to the night” Richmond Fontaine.


Cliche’s like us…..


The Boss’ Born To Run probably also ranks up there with albums I wouldn’t want to be seen dead with when I was 16, now I can clearly see the advantages of maturity, being a late convert to Springsteen.

This paper thin 1980 pressing is heavy on static and rumble, having been played a zillion times and I imagine as an Israeli pressing fairly rare.

It’s also one of those albums that I prefer side two over side one, “Meeting Across The River ” plays out like a Scorsese short movie or a vignette from the Soprano’s and the album closes out with “Jungleland” which contains , courtesy of the late great Clarens Clemons on tenor sax, probably the greatest saxophone solo in Rock ‘n Roll.

Sure, Born To Run holds a fair few cliche’s , it’s side 2 track one has been played to death, but after 42 years there is still relevance and power here that belie and cliche and age.

Album’s I would have not want to be seen with dead when I was 16…..

When I was 16 I would always take great pleasure in parading my “good taste” in music to my fellow school kids. There would usually be an album by Motorhead, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath tucked under my arm for all to see. For good effect I would show off Venoms album “At War With Satan” as it had a huge upside down cross on it. Going to school in early 80’s South Africa this would indeed raise more than few eye brows 🙂

Well today I don’t count Elton John and Neil Diamond as guilty pleasures, I love them for their great song writing ability and musicianship.

I still listen to metal, punk and alternative music all the time but I do get a laugh out of thinking what my 16 year old self would think when I put an Elton John album on my turntable. What would I say to the 16 year old kid…..?  ‘shut up , have a beer and chill out”




The first record I ever owned….


I was given this record for my birthday in 1978, the first record I have ever owned, and playing it this morning it still sounds great after 39 years.

Today, I own about four and a half thousand records and CD’s, back them there was just this one record and not a bad choice as far as ‘the first record i owned” standards.

I knew every lyric, what tracks were on what side and the band members names, the record label, you name it. Don’t think I could do that with the latest record I have bought.

I don’t , alas remember the second record I ever owned, perhaps it was Kiss’ unmasked.

Holiday Record shopping

I usually try to track down a local record shop when I am on holiday/vacation.

Hamor Records, just off Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv is well worth a visit. Great selection of punk, rock, reggae and Israeli music. The friendly owner is happy to chat about music and make recommendations about local bands/live gigs. Also their prices are a fair bit cheaper that the UK is for second hand vinyl.

And I guess the opposite end of record shop scale is the massive Amoeba Records , I visited the San Francisco branch. A vast selection of just about every genre under the sun. I managed to get a copy of Galaxie 500’s box set there for a reasonable price.

I was once kicked out of a record shop in Paris for attempting to take a photo of the shop, so they don’t rate on my blog. No idea why they would come storming out of the shop when i was attempting to take a pic of the outside of the shop …………..