Monday, 24 September 2007

Covering The Clash

Two covers for you here, both with much in common. Both, for a start, are songs written by The Clash. And both sound nothing like the original versions, but this is no bad thing in either case.
First up is bloggers' favourite Jesse Malin, and his superb version of London Calling's "Death Or Glory". Malin transforms the song into a heartbreaking piano ballad, surely far-removed from what Messrs Strummer and Jones had in mind when they wrote the song nigh-on twenty years ago. Still, you can't help feeling that they would approve of this excellent interpretation.
The second track is from British singer/songwriter Adam Masterson (pictured). Currently residing in New York, and apparently without a record deal since 2003, this track popped up a couple of years back on a free CD I got with a music magazine. It was one of those hidden gems you always seem to find on freebie CDs. The guy's got talent, clearly, and his acoustic(ish) reading of "Gates Of The West" (originally from 1979's The Cost Of Living EP) is something of a firecracker.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

Spencer Bohren - Southern Slidin' Blues

Spencer Bohren is a blues/folk guitarist and singer from New Orleans, USA. I saw him live at Beverley Folk Festival in 2006, and though it seems like ages ago (primarily because it was), I can remember the gig clearly. Bohren is a master of the lap steel guitar, and in an intimate venue (such as it was), to see someone play this quaint ol' instrument with such virtuosity, is awe-inspiring.

Bohren has a hefty back catalogue, which made it all the harder to decide which one of his CDs to purchase from the merchandise guy after the gig. On being told, "this one's got loads of slide guitar", I plumped for 2004's "Southern Cross", released on the German label Valve Records

Although the quality of the recording is not always what it could be (a peril of recording for minor German record labels perhaps?), the music is impeccable. Most of the tracks are cover versions, though the few originals are equal in quality to tracks by the likes of Hank Williams (represented twice, with "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry" and album closer "Lost Highway") and Curtis Mayfield.

It's impossible to describe in words just how good this guy is, so here are a couple of tracks for your listening pleasure, which should illustrate my point rather well. First up is Bohren's take on the Curtis Mayfield classic, "People Get Ready", transformed from soul masterpiece to slide-driven Americana - a beautiful reinterpretation of a legendary track. Secondly, we've got the age-old gospel song, "Workin' On A Building", which is just great, even to a Godless heathen like me. Enjoy.

Spencer Bohren - People Get Ready

Spencer Bohren - Workin' On A Building

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Back with The Pogues

Firstly, my apologies for the lack of posts lately. I've been on holiday and whatnot, primarily, and also been busy decorating (am I boring you yet?), so I have EXCUSES, see - proper ones and everything.

Anyways, I'm back.

Whilst I've been away, my favourite ever band The Pogues have announced that they will indeed be doing another Xmas tour this year - despite saying earlier this year that they wouldn't be doing it this time. Hurrah! They changed their minds!

As something of a Pogues obsessive (I'm really not exaggerating), this comes as sound news to me. I've been to the last three Xmas gigs at Manchester MEN Arena and loved them all, so the opportunity to see them again is quite simply too tempting to resist. That said, I did initially think, "I won't go this year... this is getting out of hand". But then I discovered that the support act for Manchester (only) is none other than the maestro himself - Billy Bragg!!! So hey, what the hell, looks like I'll have to go again. Tough life, eh.

Which leads me to the download for this post. This is a rare-as-rocking-horse-shit recording of The Pogues, live in Japan in 1988, performing a cover of "Japan" by jazz looney Pharaoh Sanders. This was the only tour on which they EVER played this song, and no studio version exists, not even as a bootleg (I have had this confirmed by Phil Chevron from the band - the track was only rehearsed on the afternoon of the gig, and then played "blind" that night).

Here it is in all its glory - it was broadcast on Japanese TV, along with the rest of the gig, so the sound quality is damn good, as you would expect. Check out Shane's vocal - priceless!

The Pogues - Japan (Live in Tokyo, October 1988)

There you go... how's that for a return to form? Enjoy.