Friday, January 22, 2021


 Well, you can try and draw some inference into this song and the exit of Agent Orange or, even, prematurely, I fear, to feel vaccines are auguring in any swift end to the 'rona. But you'd be wrong. I even sat and listened hard to the words, trying to shoehorn in some hidden message, but, no, it didn't really materialise. Let's face it, the lyrics are sufficiently vague as to be harbingers of just about anything, whether good, bad or indifferent. I suspect, however, given the ambience and the counter-culture image of the band, bad. So ignore them as anything other than a contrivance to fit in with the theme, just enjoy the song.

Evening Over Rooftops

And what a song. It takes me back, in a shake, to probably 1972 or 3. I shared a study with two others, the three of us competing to have the coolest music, where cool equalled the most obscure and arcane. These were days when walking anywhere necessitated an army surplus greatcoat and an album, a LP, under your arm, demonstrating your street cred to one and all. Benjy favoured the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and Frank Zappa, unusual choices then for fifteen year old boys in south coast England. I favoured Fairport Convention, the Byrds and the Burritos, and still do. But Nige, with access to wealth beyond our means, was ploughing further fields, and, as he owned the record player, made sure we knew it. His tastes ran to Captain Beefheart, Kevin Coyne and Van Morrison, enjoying vocal styles a little rawer than the rest of us. He had introduced us also to the Edgar Broughton Band, and this song in particular. 

Apache Dropout Boogie

Edgar Broughton and his band were darlings of the underground. Prodigiously hairy of head and face, they were forever being featured in reviews of free festivals, a phenomenon somewhat of the rage in early 70's UK. Often performing on a flat-bed truck, you could guarantee their presence, and that of Hawkwind, whenever or wherever the freaks were gathering. Locked away in our boarding school, this we could only dream of and did, incessantly. Evening Over Rooftops is perhaps not the greatest invitation or introduction  to their oeuvre, their more typical product being cathartic squalls of rudimentary thrash. I wasn't so keen on that, not that, god forbid, I could or would ever admit to that. Anyway, the sleeve of the record that contained the song, their third, entitled the Edgar Broughton Band, was so sufficiently eye-opening as to put the musical content into a distinct second place. It has tended to be better known as the 'Meat Album'. I'm surprised I never owned it, but I bet I borrowed it. Conspicuously. It reached an astonishing number 28 in the UK album charts of 1971.

Out, Demons, Out

I don't think I thought of either the Edgar Broughton Band or their music much after 1975. The shifting mores of the day put their hairiness and bombast out of favour. But they never went away, remaining a shadowy fixture in the periphery, adding members and trying new ways to carry their message onward. The core unit remained Edgar, unsurprisingly, on guitar and vocals, his brother, Steve, on drums and Arthur Grant on bass, other players dipping in and out on lead guitar and keyboards. Although they haven't performed together for a decade, Edgar playing largely solo, he has never officially broken up the band, or so he has said in an interview and piece in this month's Mojo. (Earlier interviews tell a slightly different tale....) But then, out of the blue, or even, out of the blog, came a reminder, and a chum posted the featured track. The decades dissolved and I was that teenage boy again, delighting in the fact I could still sing along and remember all the words. A quick shift around Discogs and I finally did own a copy of the parent album. Or a CD, to be fair, so not quite so impressive to tout around town.

So, let's revisit it. First the introductory swirl of strings, the acoustic strumming then cutting in, as the orchestration sets the sombre mood. The voice, Edgar's, a flat and blunt tool but perfect. Backing vocals sashay in with oo-oos and aahs, as bass and drums leap in, propelling the song up a gear. Then comes the wonderful guitar solo, by initial fourth band member, and co-writer, with Edgar, of the song, one Victor Unitt. Channeled, as was then the vogue, through a Leslie cabinet, it is a gloriously nostalgic sound. Building progressively, no messing around with middle eights, gradually the voice gets more and more demented, a stentorian sermon until a girly chorus, the Ladybirds, no less, ushers in the fade. Of course you can play it again!

Evening Over Rooftops (live, c.2010)

Have a butchers!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Over: The Once Over Twice

X: The Once Over Twice

I think that the impetus behind this theme is the end of the Trump Error, and one of the things that many of us are hoping for is that politics won’t be a constant drumbeat in our brains. So, except for this brief mention, I’m going to try to steer this piece away from politics and toward music. 

Many critics consider X’s second album, Wild Gift, to be their finest, and I agree—and the fact that this is the second time I’ve written about the band here, both times about songs from the same album, bears that out. Which is not to say that they haven’t released a lot of good music (and their album from last year, Alphabetland, their first in years, would have been on my “Best of 2020” list, if I was still writing one at my other blog). But there’s something about Wild Gift’s mix of punk and Americana, and the skewed harmonies of Exene Cervenka and John Doe, that hit the sweet spot.

“The Once Over Twice” kicks off the album with a blast of punk/rockabilly guitar, and then we are off to the races with a sad, concise slice of life tale written and sung by Cervenka. The opening lines are killer: 

I just heard the sad song by another band
Sung by another man
He gave me the once over twice 

The phrase “the once over twice” generally means giving an attractive person the “once over” and liking what you see so much that you feel compelled to do it again. Clearly, it is a sign of attraction, so are we seeing the start of a new relationship? Something hopeful? Nope. 

I said when
He said okay so long. 

Oh well. After considering her options, in the face of rejection, the singer decides: 

I got some more scotch instead 

Before beginning to wallow a little: 

Then I died a thousand times
He hung me with the endless rope
Then I died a thousand times
Maybe you don't but I do
Got a hole in my heart size of my heart 

And then, it appears, she reaches acceptance: 

I'll see you and I'll raise you off the floor
I'll floor you and we'll dance without a band 

In an article from a few years ago about the album, the writer recounted Cervenka telling him that Wild Gift, "showed off ‘our sense of humor,’ . . . More personalized songs such as ‘The Once Over Twice’ detailed a want for something greater, but settling ‘for some more scotch instead.’ She continues that, as a writer, she lived for whatever was inside her head, then worked to get it all out quickly.” 

Whether or not you agree with Rick Anderson, an Allmusic reviewer, that some of Cervenka’s lyrics in the song “don’t amount to much more than pretentious high school noodlings” (I don’t), it is hard to disagree with his conclusion that “when she and Doe sing those lines together in their inimitable raw harmony, the effect is electric.” 

Also, later today, Trump’s term will be OVER!! OVER!! OVER!! WOOO HOOO!! 

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Over: If I Had Possession Over Judgment Day


purchase  [ RJ's version  ]

Because <In Memoriam> is kind of a coda to the year past, we might call this the first theme of the new. If you are of the type who makes resolutions at this time of year, it's like Starting Over. Unless, that is, you prefer to look back and claim the past is over. Either way, over it is.

And yes, I know we had a similar theme 5 years back, but time's has changed and so have half of your bloggers here.

And maybe I shouldn't go too far down this path, but .. hey .. if it's over, then judgment day is next.

This song is genrally credited to the legendary Robert Johnson, and Mr Eric Clapton plays a pretty decent rendition of the song. The real story of the song may be more complicated - a song that has been re-made over and over again from what appears to be the original - from a song called <Roll and Tumble Blues> by Hambone Willie Newburn (who?), which was maybe based on a piece called Minglewood Blues (what?).

You're probably familiar with the story of how Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the devil in return for super-natural guitar skills. And while more recent renditions of this song (Clapton) reference Johnson (and we learn that he may not have been the original source), here is some rather detailed research into the background of the era - most of which totally de-bunks the common Robert Johnson myth. For what it's worth. Myself, I prefer to live with the myth.

None of which really needs to influence our enjoyment of the selected output here. Over to you....


David Lindley