Not Long Until 2016 is Over

I’m not usually one for ascribing one particular year as being good or bad, but, and excuse my language, fuck me 2016 has been horrid.

I don’t even mean the shifting of the political climate, where Donald Trump can be the US President-Elect (I still can’t believe I’m typing those words), or where the dunderheads voted for Brexit (and I can’t believe I’m still having to use that phrase); I mean the ridiculous amount of celebrities – and pop artists in particular – that we’ve lost this year, a list which just seems to keep on growing.

Sure, few will be as significant as the losses of Bowie and Prince, but still…there’s some old muso warhorses that have gone this year who should be properly mourned.

This last week, we have lost (and forgive me if I’ve missed anyone, it’s kinda hard to keep up): David Mancuso – pioneering House DJ, and Sharon Jones, of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, a phenomenal talent. There are people far better placed than I to comment on both their passing, and if you have a sweep through some of the blogs in the list on the left you’ll find people who’ve done just that.

And then there was Craig “Gilly” Gill. As I mentioned, I went to see Teenage Fanclub on Tuesday, and practically the first thing my mate Gary said to me when we met up was “Did you hear about the drummer from Inspiral Carpets?”

I had, obviously. With some of the folks who have passed on this year, you kind of knew it was on the cards; they were a bit older than us, had been around for many years, were known to have been ill or had a reputation for abusing certain substances at some point in their career or other. But Gilly was someone our age (actually, younger than me) who was in a band that I considered to be of my era, “one of mine”.

To the average punter, Inspiral Carpets were known for having dodgy bowl haircuts, writing pop tunes that were led by Clint Boon’s swirling organ-esque keyboard sound, and for being part of the Madchester scene, even though they were sort of on the edge of it, Madchester without actually sounding Madchester. And that’s all true, but there was  more to them than that.

So you go back and listen to them, with the benefit of hindsight, and you realise what a great drummer Craig “Gilly” Gill was. Listen to this, for example:

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Inspiral Carpets feat. Mark E. Smith – I Want You

Exemplary rock drumming, I’m sure you’ll agree.

And then there’s this, a very different kettle of fish, the other end of the spectrum, one which we seem to end up singing when me and my buddies meet up for a Christmas drink at The Dublin Castle in Camden:

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Inspiral Carpets – This is How it Feels

RIP Gilly. Respect.

More soon, hopefully not more losses.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

For this morning’s dose of Country tuneage, we’re returning to the man who wrote the song this thread is named after: Kris Kristofferson.

A few years ago, when I was living in Cardiff, I saw that he was coming over to the UK to do a few dates, and the nearest one was over in Bristol. Now, Kristofferson is no spring chicken, so I figured I’d better go see him whilst I still could, so I bought me a ticket, planning to catch the last train back to Cardiff after the gig, which, having caught it before with my old mate Johnny Mac (and having a heated discussion about what the first rap record was while we waited for it), I knew to be around midnight, .

In the months in between me purchasing my ticket and the actual gig, however, I got offered a job in Cheltenham, and so I upped sticks and moved to the posh Georgian spa town. The day of the gig arrived, and off I travelled to Bristol, it never occurring to me that, since Cheltenham was nearer to Bristol than Cardiff, there wouldn’t be a late train back there as well.

Bad move. When I got to Bristol I found that the last train was at 10:00pm – an hour after Kristofferson was due to take the stage. I checked my bank balance to see if I had enough money to pay for a night in a Travelodge, but no dice: it was the day before payday, and I was broke.

There was nothing else for it, I’d have to do the unthinkable – leave a gig early.

To cap it all, he came on stage a little late, meaning I got to see about twenty minutes, maybe half an hour, of the great man. Luckily he played a couple of the songs I wanted to hear early: “Sunday Morning Coming Down”, “Me and Bobby McGee” and this one, a favourite of mine for it’s story-telling, a quality that I don’t think Kristofferson gets enough credit for:

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Kris Kristofferson – Best Of All Possible Worlds

By the way, that’s the album sleeve as my Dad owned it. The album subsequently got re-released under the name “Kristofferson”, originally rejected by the record company because nobody would know who he was.

As a little bonus, here’s a cover of that, performed by The Little Willies (stop smirking a the back there!). The Little Willies are essentially a country super-group, although the only member I’ve heard of is daughter of Indian sitar player, composer and friend of some chaps called The Beatles Ravi Shankar, Norah Jones. They mostly perform covers of classic country songs and I assume they’re named after their desire to be miniature versions of Mr Willie Nelson rather than as a reference to any shortcomings in the trouser department of the male, erm, members of the band, but you never know.

Anyway, this, from their debut eponymous album, is their version:

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The Little Willies – Best Of All Possible Worlds

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

On Friday night, I thought I’d make some popcorn, dim the lights and watch a movie. I have quite a collection of DVDs, gathering dust now with the event of Netflix, so I decided to watch one that I hadn’t seen for a couple of years, the second best comedy zombie movie ever: “Zombieland“.

Obviously, “Shaun of the Dead” is the best, but turn on ITV2 any night of the week and you’ve got a pretty good chance of seeing that, assuming they aren’t showing “About a Boy” again.

Anyway: “Zombieland” stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Emma Stone – who would probably get loads more work if Mila Kunis didn’t already exist – and Abigail Breslin as four survivors of a zombie apocalypse in America, and their journey across country, each trying to reach a different destination, and of course the many undead-based scrapes they get into.

It also features one of the finest cameo appearances by…well, if you haven’t seen it I’m not going to spoil it.

The reason I mention this is because it has rather a fine soundtrack, including tracks by Willie Nelson, The Velvet Underground, Hank Williams, Mozart, The Black Keys…you know, the sort of wide range of stuff that gets suggested over at The Chain.

And there’s one other band on there, who I had completely forgotten featured from the couple of times I watched it. As the gang drive into a desolate Los Angeles, this song fades in:

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Doves – Kingdom of Rust

Doves: Mighty, majestic, much missed, more soon.