Jackie Leven : The History of Rain(purchase link)
At last, a reason to post an offering from my hero, if that be an odd concept for someone of my, um, mature years. Having dipped my toes into the waters of this Machine, I now feel sufficient confidence to put up what may read little more than a paean of praise, albeit wherein my bias is accepted freely and openly. This man, with us sadly no longer, is a GENIUS. And I can say "is" rather than "was", as his legacy lives on and is there for the finding, yet many may be unfamiliar with his considerable back catalogue. Let this be an introduction, from perhaps his most conventional and accessible LP, the Argyll Cycle, Volume 1. Forget all the brouhaha around any other ideas of celtic soul, for this is the real deal, gorgeously evocative of his homeland, drenched in mists of melancholia, aching at the seams of heartbreak.
A gigantic bear of a man, Jackie had what many may call a colourful life, even when extricating the mythology from his usually self-penned manuscript, as there was a delight, maintained lifelong, in embellishing the truth, as if this lily ever needed any extra gilding. For the truth involved near-death, serious drug abuse, torrents of alcohol and the poetry of the gutter. I won't regurgitate the details, but this eulogy by eminent media scribe, Paul Du Noyer, covers most of the tracks, as well as pointing toward a not half bad sampler. The problem with Jackie, however, is that samplers can merely but flicker over the quantity of his output, rushing out product on a more than yearly basis, whether under the ever supportive patronage of his always loyal record label boss,or side pseudonymed projects to soak up his excess. And songs were not always or even his greatest strength, as his live shows, usually just himself in shorts and ripped denim shirt, tousled hair and battered accoustic, with his tapping foot miked up for percussion, adjacent to a pint glass of indeterminate sustenance, were a whole other experience. A song, lovingly crafted over very many layers in the studio, would emerge, beautifully barren and bare, accompanied only by his stunning instrumental technique. But a song would often be preceded by an as long as the song anecdote, wherein he could display, within the same tale, both the heights of his literacy and the depths of his profanity. Truth, as cited, often immaterial to the telling, he could have you laughing for your life, ahead of then making you weep for and with his widescreen window on a bleak humanity, populated in granite streets leading to stormy harbour walls, rain, always rain, falling incessantly.
If you do nothing else today, search out this man. You will, I promise,be the better for it.