Saturday, January 4, 2020

Snow & Ice: Winter

purchase [Goats Head Soup]

My memory told me that <Goats Head Soup> followed <Exile on Main Street>. Must have been one of the toughest Stones' outputs. (I mean .. pretty hard to improve on that one)

That said, Goats Head Soup (who named it??!?!?) actually includes a few of my favorite Stones pieces - ones I could listen to back to back/over and over again. [Maybe I did once upon a time]. The AllMusic review says as much: difficult placement after Exile ... lots of good overlooked songs.
But, it's <Winter> we need to zoom in on.

Something about the melodic structure - the sound of the instruments ... something else I'm missing that manages to convey a real sense of winter/cold.. Is it the reverb? Or just Jagger's uncanny ability to fit the voice to the theme?

Granted, the lyrics slightly miss the theme of ice and snow, but ...hey ... Winter: the season of ice and snow.

And ... the Stones

Friday, January 3, 2020

Snow & Ice: Snow (Hey Oh)

purchase [Stadium Arcadium]

And here I thought this song was all about winter conditions.

It was my son who introduced me to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers - me being from a Who and Stones generation, I find/found it harder and harder to keep up with groups that appeared after about the arrival of Prince. Around about Nirvana's arrival, I just tuned out.

Granted, it would have been hard to miss the arrival of some of the post 90s music, and the Chilli Peppers fall into the pretty hard to miss category.

But my ignorance - no naivete goes deeper: I took the lyrics of <Snow> on their surface meaning. I mean "tracks in the snow" - you know how you leave footprints in drifts. As Anthony Kiedis said: a fresh canvas of snow. In between the perfect cover of another wonder - I mean, a covering of snow is a true wonder. Master of lyrics he is, I now read that Kiedis is couching his addiction to snow of a different kind in a metaphor about the weather. Look a bit deeper, and the lyrics speak about "get high on" and "killing me". Oh! Snow. Now I get it. Ah well, chalk it up to experience.

Doesn't detract from my love of the song. It's great music that sits up there with classics like the Stones and the Who.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Top Posts of 2019

We interrupt the Ice & Snow theme for our fifth annual listing of the most viewed posts of the prior year.

Through our (usually) two-week long themes, our international roster of writers address many different kinds of music, and bring different perspectives to their pieces. In our top 10, we have discussions about spy themes, sidemen, musicians who died, doctors, unhappy couples and David Crosby.  Our posts throughout the year included rock, folk music of various countries, prog, power pop, country, punk, blues, standards, comedy and other genres.

So, in case you missed them, here are the most viewed posts from the last calendar year. But they are only a small sampling of what you will find in our archives, which we invite you to explore.  Also, we invite you to like us on Facebook, so that you won't miss anything.

Surprisingly, our top post of the year was about a classic movie theme:

1.  Spies & Secrets--James Bond Theme
2.  In Memoriam--Ed King
3.  Unsainted Nicks--Nicky Hopkins
4.  In Memoriam--Johan Johannson
5.  Spies & Secrets--Secret Agent Man
6.  In Memoriam--Avicii
7.  Titles & Honorifics--Doctor My Eyes
8.  What?!--What Are Their Names?
9.  Happy/Unhappy Couples--The Letter
10.  Happy/Unhappy Couples--Voices Carry

Because so many of the most viewed posts are from early in the year, which makes sense, since they were available to view on the site for the longest, below are the top posts for each of our themes not represented in the total top 10:

Lion/Lamb--Leo Kottke
Australia(n)--Men At Work/Down Under
Fake Bands--The Monkees
Stones That Roll--Rock: Santana-Stone Flower
Bass/Bass-Run Through The Jungle
Trees/Grass--Feed The Tree
Same Name/Different Artist--Squeeze
(In)Dependence--Nobody Slides My Friend
Alabama-The Blind Boys Of
Cutlery--Mack The Knife
Slide--Slide Away
Horse/s-Dark Horse
Power--Atomic Power
Strange/Weird--Goodbye Stranger
Witch--Anne Boleyn 'The Day Thou Gavest Lord Hath Ended'
Spirit--Spirit In The Sky
Red, Yellow or Orange--J. Geils Band
Family--Family Man
Leftovers-- Cutlery (that Cuts) (and Alabama)/A Knife and Fork
Snow & Ice--Jackie Leven

Thanks so much for reading our work this year.  If you are interested in joining our staff, contact information can be found at the top right of the blog.

And we promise more great music and writing in 2020, including our annual In Memoriam theme, coming soon!!

Sunday, December 29, 2019


Quite a metaphor, that, uncertain which is the dominant force, whether it is sugar sweetening the destructive power of an iceberg, or a the gulp of realisation following a swallow of something not quite so sweet after all. I am sure the lyric explains but I prefer the uncertainty, tending more towards the tune and the presentation. Both of which this band had, here and in general, in spades. And I notice they have some gigs lined up for next year, this late return surely worth a shout, pinned as it is on the back of the 25th anniversary of their third album, 'Jollification'. (Which was last month, with a trio of initial shows then taking place.)

I was on the bus a bit before Jollification, they, or he, Ian Broudie, having hatched the band alone in his studio, playing all the instruments and singing all the vocals on the first album, 1989's 'Cloudcuckooland'. Perhaps not quite as big an ask as you might imagine, he being already an accomplished producer of other folks records in his home town of Liverpool. But I am still ahead of myself, my introduction to Ian Broudie being through his membership of Liverpudlian semi-supergroup Big in Japan. Where, let alone anywhere else, they weren't, their fame being mainly down to where the many and various members went next, it being the launchpad for, amongst others, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and the KLF, one drummer later joining Siouxsie and the Banshees, the keyboardsman joining The Teardrop Explodes. And Ian Broudie becoming producer for Echo and the Bunnymen and The Icicle Works. Not bad for a band so reviled in their lifetime as to have a petition taken out to promote their dissolution, albeit signed also by the band themselves.

Above is 'Pure', the debut single from the above mentioned 'Cloudcuckooland', I remembering well the first time I heard it. I was in full Morris Dancing costume, dancing with local side, Silhill Morris, at fabled warwickshire country pub, the Black Boy, the pub as mentioned, momentarily, in the finale of Peaky Blinders, series 5. Whilst I dare say I may not have fully dredged up this skeleton from my past, something for another day, that day some bemusement was to be had by the already punished locals by the sight of yours truly putting the song on the jukebox, repeatedly and repeatedly, whilst my colleagues danced outside to the song of an altogether older Albion. I love the music of the morris, but, that day, I was transfixed.

Next album, 'Sense', followed a couple or so years later. It was good, if not quite so, the video for lead single, 'Life of Riley', perhaps revealing why, at least for the espousedly non-football loving me, it had Broudie delineating his love for all things soccer writ large. Prejudice is a strong word, but it was enough to put me off the band. So, when Broudie then teamed up with comedians David Baddiel and Frank Skinner, all three utter football nuts, to write and perform the (admittedly very catchy) England European Nations Championship song of 1996, I was mortified. Getting it to number one in the UK singles charts twice, it being reprised in 1998, made it worse still, the horror of when one of your favourite bands not only become well known and celebrated to all, it also being with also something you cannot admit to any love for. (Admit is the operative word, I fear, as see also Chumbawamba.)

So I missed out, at the time, on 'Jollification'. And, until this piece, had no idea the b(r)and put out a further three albums, the knowledge giving me no small amount of homework. The featured song even comes from one of them, 'Dizzy Heights'. Are they any good? Unsurprisingly, yes, they are, even if the bubble of britpop had burst somewhat, along with the laddism of football hurly-burly becoming, now to others as well, a less well received intrusion, propelled no doubt with the ongoing dismal performances of the national side. In particular, I like the more dance oriented sound on 5th album, 'Tilt'.

A ten year gap, to 2009, and their final, at least so far, committal to disc, 'Four Winds'. Resorting now more to co-writes, you might be mistaken, from the opening of 'Ghosts', below, that this represents a further change in direction. That is, until the familiar angelic vocal chimes in, a familiar clang-clang backbeat, even if surrounded by sweeps of synth. So, all is well.
 I await my show, in March, an early and late birthday present to myself. I look forward. Just don't play bloody 'Three Lions'......

New to you? This. Otherwise, that.

(If this actually is up your street, between 'Tilt' and 'Four Winds', perhaps tilting at the four winds, came 'Tales Told', altogether simpler fare, the studio tricks reined in, may be even more so, it being a solo Ian Broudie release.)