Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Recent music-related birthday gifts:

I had wanted the Soft Boys live LP (on the left) for some time. By chance, spotted it in a record shop for the fairly high sum you'd expect - was told it had been brought in that week by a former band member, and I instantly recommended a loved one buy me it as a gift, and it was bought (lucky me!). And I personally bought Globe of Frogs, by Robyn Hitchcock which I was just as glad to have (Balloon Man and Flesh Number One (Beatle Dennis) are on repeat - Can you name any better song title than the latter? Can you name any other song than the former that merrily slips in a lyric about hoummous and chickpeas?

The live LP is the Soft Boys at Cambridge Portland Arms. It took place a couple of years before I was on this earth. It's as raucously joyous and off-kilter as you please, as one would expect. Plenty of jokey direct interaction with the audience, surreal stories spun, in-between-song banter, fond moments breaking into traditional acapella folk, and even a spot of ghastly mellow saxophone. The size of the venue lends the LP a cosiness; Soft Boys in your living room. In fact, the Portland Arms pub has recently undergone transformation and had building works in order for the gig room to be extended. I haven't seen it yet, but I can't help feel sad. Such a historical building, and its charm was how extremely tiny the back room was, and that you were crammed right in, right up against audience and band. I used to live there and it was a second home, one of my most treasured tiny snug venues for bands starting out. Anyway, imagine you were there in 1978, etc !

The Yann Tiersen LP (top right) was an album I'd wanted a while too. This LP comes with a CD version. This is the thoughtful, melancholy yet uplifting music I crave for autumnal times.

A friend got me up to speed on his recent music obsessions, giving me the albums by Wu Lyf, Crocodiles, and Dead Skeletons. By turns, holy, fuzzy, droney.

And I'm embarking on obtaining Edwyn Collins albums. I need to hear the most recent one, but here was Gorgeous George. I would not have appreciated this album in 1994, but now the slower songs and the tenderness, and the variety, and his more adult-orientated song-crafting are just great. I liked the pop of Orange Juice when I was a teenager - they hadn't been re-assessed as cool or directly ripped off much at that point.

The Last Stop Standing film was bought from Borderline Records in Brighton when I was there. The book was a fascinating journey in record shops/shopping. Even though I well knew it, I still got a genuine set of tears when the screen flashed up how there used to be over thousands of record shops in the UK, now the number scrapes a couple of hundred. Worth watching by any music fan. It makes you want to support any and all independent record shops even more (as if that were possible with me).

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