Sunday Morning Coming Down

Regular readers may recall that my very lovely and generous group of friends gave me a whole hunka credits at Ticketmaster for my birthday, and I’m pleased to announce I’m slowly, steadily, chipping away at that monumental total.

So far, I’ve bought tickets for two gigs, and annoyingly missed out on one: The Pretenders are supporting Suede at a one-off gig at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in November, which is a dream line-up for me – but I wasn’t quick enough out of the blocks to get a ticket.

Instead, I have bought tickets for two gigs: one – and I know this will irk at least one of my blogging buddies – is for The Wonder Stuff, at the same venue, in December.

Now, I’ll be honest, under normal circumstances I would not consider going to see them, since they haven’t released anything of any worth since 1993, but they’re peforming both their debut album The Eight Legged Groove Machine (which I love and holds many happy memories for me) and the follow-up Hup (which I’m less fond of, but it’s not as bad as their next album, Never Loved Elvis, which I actively dislike and which thankfully is not getting an airing at said gig.) As long as they don’t start putting violins all over the performance of the first album, then I’m sure to have a great night.

But why am I wanging on about The Wonder Stuff here, where a Country record traditionally lives, I hear you yawn.

Well, because the other gig I’ve bought a ticket for is to go see Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds at the O2 next May, which I’m sure you’ll agree is much cooler.

So, to mark that, here’s one man in black – Johnny Cash – covering another – Nick Cave – on the third of his peerless American Recordings albums.

It was Llŷr who first played this to me, part of a DJ set by Erol Alkan – I think (I’m pretty sure, but I’ve never tracked a copy down, and when I asked Alkan via Twitter his response was an equally vague “I think I did….”). At the time I wasn’t familiar with the Cave version, and the lyrical content stunned and blew me away. It was my first step on the road to discovering the immense body of work that Nick Cave has created, some of which will be cropping up on these pages again pretty soon.

Johnny Cash – The Mercy Seat

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down (Be Llŷrious edition)

Of course, there was one person who I would give anything to have been celebrating my birthday with me this weekend: my recently passed best friend, Llŷr.

And today he is especially prominent in my thoughts because it was exactly one year ago today that I last saw him.

Discharged from hospital for the final time, he was back at his parents’ home, under their care, with a district nurse or two popping in to help where they could. Palliative care, they call it.

Me and three of the chaps that I spent my birthday weekend with drove down to Wales to visit him. All laddish jokes and cameraderie on the way down, I’m not sure any one of us said a single word for a good hour in the car on the way home.

As we left, I hugged him, told him I’d be back soon. I don’t think any of us thought that would be the last time we would see him, least of all me: but finding myself hospitalised a few weeks later with my own health issues, that was the end of the line for me.

A few years earlier, after he’d been discharged from hospital for the second or third time, he told me he had bought me a present, as a thank you for ensuring he’d got to hospital at all. Of course, I told him he shouldn’t have. Of course, he told me to take it. Of course, I didn’t argue.

That present was the Johnny Cash boxset Unearthed, a collection of out-takes and highlights from the recording sessions which led to his phenomenal American Recordings series.

It’s one of my most cherished possessions. More so now than when he gave it to me.

Llŷr was a massive fan of Neil Young (Llŷr was a massive fan of a lot of things), so it seems appropriate that I post this track today.

In memory.

Johnny Cash – Heart of Gold

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Last Monday would have been Johnny Cash’s birthday. Had I realised this last weekend, I’d have posted something by him to mark the event.

So, to make up for that, here, from the legendary Johnny Cash At San Quentin album, and met with rapturous and appreciative applause by the inmates of San Quentin prison is the song San Quentin, and the song he followed it with in the set, San Quentin.

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Johnny Cash – San Quentin

Johnny Cash – San Quentin Continued

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This morning a couple of songs from deceased iconic Country stars, both of whom appear to have a claim to making “The Classic Christmas Album”.

First up, John Denver, with a message that I hope my own parents take no notice of:

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John Denver – Please, Daddy (Don’t Get Drunk This Christmas)

And then next The Man In Black, who I imagine didn’t take much persuading to have a wee tipple on the big day:

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Johnny Cash – Christmas Time’s A Comin’

More soon.

(The (Brief) Return of) Friday Night Music Club

What, I hear you ask, has caused this sudden splurge of posts on a Friday?

Well, it’s like this.

Last night I went to the British Film Institute (cool kids call it the BFI, like it’s a Roald Dahl character) to see Adam Buxton perform a tenth anniversary of his Bug shows.

I’ve mentioned Adam here before, referencing and linking to his excellent podcasts, and I also went to see him perform at the start of the year, a gig which was one of the funniest nights out I’ve ever been to. To quote Blackadder: “I am glad I wore my corset, for I fear my sides have split.”

The Bug shows are a slightly different beast, and those who subscribe to the Murdoch channels may have caught the Bug shows getting an airing on there.

Here’s the deal: Adam plays some ground-breaking music videos, and says some funny stuff about them, the funny stuff often being about comments that have been left under the video clip on YouTube.

There’s more to it than that, and I’m doing Dr Buckles a grave disservice by describing it thusly, but in essence what you get at a Bug show is some incredible videos, some amazing songs, and a lot of “have I actually wet myself this time?” laughs.

Last night’s show was beset by technical issues, and whilst that may have caused others to flounce off in a huff, Adam simply sat, sorted them out every time they arose, and gave us an hilarious running commentary of what had gone wrong and what he was doing about it, as it all played out on the big screen in front of us. I don’t think there was one person in the audience who was annoyed by the tech problems, in fact quite the opposite: we all felt we were seeing an utterly unique show and watching Adam nonchalantly deal with it merely added to the love in the room for him.

Anyway, watching that gave me itchy fingers, and so here we are. And I figured I’d post the videos he showed last night, along with an mp3 of the tune, but without the jokes, because frankly I would not be able to do them justice.

Even if you don’t like the tunes, each of these videos is incredible in its own sweet way, some funny, more just mind-boggling, so I would heartily recommend you give them a look.

Here we go:

Battles – Atlas

Wiley feat. Daniel Merriweaher – Cash in My Pocket

Bonobo – Cirrus

And, by the same director (Cyriak):

Adam Buxton – Counting Song

I can’t actually embed the next one, and it needs some explanation, so here’s what it said on the hand-out we were given on attending last night’s performance:

“…a groundbreaking exercise in interactive music video making from 2010, that is arguably still the best example there is: created by Chris Milk, The Johnny Cash Project allows viewers to create/illustrate over frames of a guide video, and add them to the viewer. It not only continues to change but is effectively never the same thing twice.”

So, here’s the link to the song:

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Johnny Cash – Ain’t No Grave

And here’s the link to The Johnny Cash Project. Enjoy your unique, never to be repeated viewing.

Next up:

Radiohead – Weird Fishes/Arpeggi

Flying Lotus – Until The Quiet Comes

(NB – the mp3 there is a rip of the video, not the track)

M.I.A. – Bad Girls

Great as all the videos featured today are, I think this next one might actually deserve the term “genius” being applied to it:

Swede Mason – Masterchef Synesthesia

Roots Manuva – Witness (The Fitness)

The next one was made specifically for the Bug show, and features the host in the leading role:

Guitar Wolf – Summertime Blues

Etienne de Crecy – No Brain

Manchester Orchestra – Simple Math

Is it wrong of me to want to add an ‘s’ to that title…?

And finally:

Grimes – Oblivion

Oh, and you can visit Adam’s website here and listen to his consistently brilliant podcasts here.

That’ll do you.

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Last night and this morning’s posts were written before the latest terror attacks took place.

I thought about not posting them both, but since I often have said here that we should carry on regardless, that changing our daily routine is letting “them” win, I have decided to post as usual.

My thoughts, of course, are with all of those affected by last night’s attacks; my gratitude and admiration goes to our emergency services and the work they did and continue to do.

Carrying on from last night’s Roy Orbison post, here’s Johnny Cash covering a song written by Don Gibson, covered by many, but made famous by The Big O:

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Johnny Cash – A Legend in My Time

Orbison’s version was one of John Peel’s favourite songs, and somewhere I have Half Man Half Biscuit covering it, a version never commercially released (as far as I know), but included as one side of a limited edition 12″ single (The Fall were on the flipside contributing “Job Search”). Actually, as an extremely limited edition: only one copy was made and that was presented to Peel as a present on his 65th birthday. I’ll try and dig it out for y’all some time.

In other words, more soon.