portrait of this blog's author - by Stephen Blackman 2008

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Self Portrait of The Day

More Levon News . . . . . . 

Fifty stars form 'supergroup' to mark 50 years of Amnesty

Toast to Freedom, performed by an ensemble of prominent musicians and celebrities, goes on sale. Recorded at Levon's place in Woodstock & it looks like this will be the last track ever with him contributing                         .......Guardian Amnesty 50th article here
The video will be available on the Guardian and Observer website from Thursday, along with interviews with some of the artists talking about the project. The song will be available to buy from online retailers and proceeds will go to Amnesty. Looks like it's gonna have an interesting line up! See pictures!
Ever since Quadrophenia, I have thought Phil Davis a fine British actor and discovering more about him today, that he was a pupil of the Joan Greenwood theatre (where we visited from college as a youngster) surprised me not one jot. Read more about this (another hero? ED) fine fine actor (and Director) here Phil Davis article

Phil Davies, Rupert Penry-Jones and Steve Pemberton in 'Whitechapel' eg Brit TV at its best, tho' my loyalties have favoured Scott & Bailey of late.......but Davis' work on TV is of the highest calibre in all that he does, from 'Silk' to his film 'ID'

Self Portrait The Day

21 Apr 2012

 BIG O Update!
There's been some great posting on Big O since dear brother Levon passed away t'other day..........these included a tribute largely featuring Emmy-Lou Harris

 get it here . . . . . Levon Helm Tribute

A set from Levon's Band from November last year featuring Kris Kristofferson........
get it here . . . . . . . Levon Helm Band 2011

Also some oddities and some beauties!
Oddity no. 1 The Bob Dylan AJ Weberman tapes of 1971 featuring the eponymous cracker-barrel Weberman's telephone calls to His Bobness
It's weird![what did you expect? ED] . . . . and very funny [so who's weird here? ED].......get it here The Weberman phone calls

Regular visitors (who? ED) will note my delight in Nanci Griffith and Big O have posted possibly one of the best quality boots this listener has every heard.....OK it's an FM broadcast but heck, you may as well be there. Wonderful set from the Cambridge Folk Festival of 1992. Download it NOW!
You won't be sorry!

Get it here . . . . . t'is a wonderment!      Nanci Griffith Cambridge Folk Festival 1992

Following that little gem they posted the Basement Tapes version One Hundred and Thirty Nought.....now I know you have pretty much got this all by now [who the heck ARE you talking to? ED] but it's from the collection of the ubiquitous Philip Cohen so if you don't have this version it's really worth a punt!

Get it here (them! ED)  Basement Tapes Reels 1 & 2

And another gem posted this week from my heroes above many many others, a set from The Doors from Dallas Texas 1968

Look at that track list! Everyone a classic! Get it here . . . . . The Doors DALLAS 1968

It's worth checking the text that Big O post for this one
Live at the Dallas Memorial Auditorium, July 9, 1968 (Tuesday). A very good mono(?) audience recording. This is from Greg Shaw’s tape.
“This is the best-sounding source (Greg Shaw’s tape) for The Doors’ 1968 show in Dallas. I balanced the channels on this source to bring them more to the center, applied ClickRepair to clean up some loud clicks/pops, and also did some speed-correction. This recording is unusual in that the sound gradually moves from one channel to the other during the performance almost like a flange effect. This is native to the original transfer/bootleg and there was little I could do to correct it. If you’ve never heard this source for Dallas ‘68 or you’ve only heard high gen sources, then you’re in for a treat. This is a great sounding audience recording. ‘Light My Fire’ fades in and fades out due to a tape cut in the middle of the song.”
- Porsche.

The show was shared at The Traders’ Den in March, 2012 by “holdingcell” - Thanks! The following notes were included.
“A truly amazing night with exceptionally great performances one after the other. Only the absence of ‘The End’ avoids saying that the show just couldn’t get any better. Jim gives an inspired and occasionally powerful performance just like his band. In the middle of ‘Break On Through’ during the silent part something had happened because Jim coughed some which earned several laughs from the audience. After that he performed with apparent determination even finishing the song unusually.
“Highlights include ‘Backdoor Man’ which features a classic Morrison laugh, a storming version of ‘Five To One,’ the haunting ‘Crystal Ship’ following the first public appearance of Jim’s poem ‘Texas Radio And The Big Beat.’ An impressive ‘Money’ - where Jim find great comfort singing it at the end from full throat. ‘When The Music’s Over’ is another classic and contains everything that makes The Doors so unique. The performance is filled with unpredictable moments: Jim chatting with the crowd, laughter, missing lyrics (instead of “With your ear down to the floor” he sings “Which your ear down..”), moans, groans and improvisations but meanwhile (the atmosphere is)… tense. After the spectacular performance the audience enthusiastically applauded the band then Jim asked:
“Well, what do you guys wanna hear now?” The whole auditorium immediately began shouting requests mainly ‘Light My Fire,’ and ‘The End.’ “One at a time!” Jim requested. Then suddenly “Fuck! Oh, what do you wanna hear?” which again made the crowd laugh. After a few seconds he suddenly bursts into “Wake Up!” which opened the closing, much requested ‘Light My Fire.’ The Doors are now one of the biggest bands in America and by playing and selling out arenas making over $35,000 a night. The show (or parts) has been filmed by the Doors’ film-crew.”
- Buda

Excerpts from Stephen Davis’ book on The Doors, Jim Morrison: Life, Death, Legend (2005)
“The Doors went back on the road with their film crew.
“In Dallas on July 9, a laugh opened Jim Morrison’s almost complete Texas Radio and the Big Beat, a new kind of poem/song inspired by the imperative preaching that Jim heard on late-night Bible Belt radio. He also taunted the cops guarding the stage, mocking them, trying to get them to overact for the film crew. In Houston, next night, he performed spontaneous verse compositions in the middle of ‘Back Door Man’ using the routines ‘Can the wind have it all?’ and ‘We tried not so hard maybe we tried it too hard.’
“Poetic interjections in ‘When the Music’s Over’ included ‘Winter Photography’ and ‘Count The Dead and Wait Till Morning’, material culled from his recent notebooks. Delving into R ‘n’ B to alleviate his boredom with the much requested ‘Crystal Ship’ and ‘Light My Fire’, Jim launched the band into ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Who Do You Love?’ Working the police again, Jim tried to get the kids to rush the stage. The cops responded lining the stage, blocking the band from the crowd’s view. Jim yelled out ‘If you all aren’t gonna come up here, I guess I’ll have to try to get through ‘em….This is your last chance!’ The cops pulled up even tighter, surrounding the band, and the show was over.” p. 267
Even after all these years, Jimbo still sounds fresh. His goading of the police doesn’t sound like part of the “act”. Ray was probably pissed by that. The Doors as musicians don’t suck. The music is gothic. Bold, dramatic and sometimes ugly. Not ugly - ugly. But ugly - uncomfortable. The Doors are an experience. This early show supposedly was filmed. Show us the video already.
And finally the beautiful and staggeringly talented Norah Jones posted today (Sunday)
She was on Jools Holland this week and once again took my breath away (what even with your eyes shut? ED - what CAN you mean? )
she and Jool shared a piano to do a Cab Calloway style song (Huh? ED) and Jools mentions the Little Willies ( a favourite band and go and buy there latest album here! For The Good Times - The Little Willies ) and a version of the Kris Kristofferson 'For The Good Times' which must stand as one of the finest love songs ever written!

From the Johnny Cash Tribute Norah and Kris together . . . . 
Enjoy! I know I did!

Friday, April 20, 2012



Studies in drawing my self portrait with my reading glasses 
on 7th Apr, 8th Apr and 9th Apr


The Band - King Biscuit Flower Hour August 1976
The Band - Ultrasonic Studios - Hempstead 1971

as we might expect Big O have posted a cracker of a Band boot for those mourning the loss of one of the greatest drummers, singers and artists the planet has ever produced

Download  here Levon & The Band 'Across The Great Divide'

update: this is frankly astonishingly good and great fun! Quality throughout and interest from the time of Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks to some of the best collaborations with Bobby the Zee
Taster? You want a taster....y'ere t'is
Drunkard's Dream 
They say 
LEVON HELM R.I.P. 1940-2012
Levon Helm, singer and drummer with The Band, died from throat cancer on April 19, 2012 at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Helm was 71. The news was announced in a message posted by his family on Facebook and Twitter, which read: “Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul.”
Earlier this week it was announced that Helm was in the final stages of his “battle with cancer”. Helm’s daughter, Amy, and his wife, Sandy, had then posted a message on his website, noting, “Thank you fans and music lovers who have made his life so filled with joy and celebration… he has loved nothing more than to play, to fill the room up with music, lay down the back beat, and make the people dance! He did it every time he took the stage… We appreciate all the love and support and concern.”
Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998, but that didn’t stop him from performing and recording albums. The passing of Helm also means that The Band is now left with two surviving original members - guitarist Robbie Robertson and keyboardist Garth Hudson. Pianist Richard Manuel died in 1986 while bassist Rick Danko died in 1999.

 Nice Obituary here too
Guardian Levon Helm Obit.
A Life in Pictures here
Guardian Levon Helm pictures
Tributes pour in.....
USA News - Levon Helm Tributes

Levon Helm's website let us know like this..................

"Levon Helm passed peacefully this afternoon. He was surrounded by family, friends and band mates and will be remembered by all he touched as a brilliant musician and a beautiful soul."

Friday, April 13, 2012

Self portrait from Good Friday 2012

and one for the 14th Mar 2012
not happy with this one either and the addition of colour means the lips are too red


I am minded to take a little trip down memory lane. As I know he pops by and actually reads what I blurble on about, this is dedicated to Howard Smith. How do I know he pops by? Why he told me so!
I bumped into Howard in my local Sainsburys over Easter and he is a sterling fellow, loyal, friendly, a true yeoman, the sort of man you could trust with pretty much anything. He married his childhood sweetheart Mandy, though I was saddened to learn they are divorced now but they were as youngsters the ideal couple, both good looking and both as  nice as it’s possible to be and I wasn’t surprised to learn he was on his way round to see her when we bumped into each other. We were childhood school friends, he was the year below me at school here in Oxfordshire and we had many a happy summer dawdling about the village where he lived. Islip is just North of Kidlington which itself is some 5 miles north of Oxford.
There were three pals from that village who came to be schooled in Kidlington; Howard, or Brian as he was introduced to me and still to this day people will call him Brian but he chose his other first name and earnestly asked us to call him Howard from then on, which most of us managed tho’ it still plagues him, which made all his pals laugh (thought him, not so much!), close friend Trevor Timms and Kevin Gunston or the legendary “Gunner” (of course! ED). I was infatuated with Trevor’s breathtakingly beautiful sister and Gunner’s mum ran the local pub, the Red Lion

I have an indelible memory of rowing Howard’s little boat on the beautiful river of Islip, a tributary of the Cherwell itself a tributary of the Thames. Bucolic days of sunshine and oars dipping in the river and his energetic little Jack Russell ratting down every available nook and cranny of the riverbank. I reminded him of this and he even recalled how much that little rowboat had cost him all those years ago. £17! All that happiness for seventeen quid! Another friend, Leon, when informed I had bumped into our erstwhile pal, has memories of playing in Howard’s family shop and playing pea shooters as there an inevitable endless supply of dried peas on hand in the store room!
Aaah the peashooter! Never mind your Playstation 3 and your Wii, we had fun those days, sitting around the playing field learning how to roll cigarettes and playing peashooters in a cold store of the village shop.

Howard, sir, I salute you.

Thursday, April 05, 2012



Cooder treat!

Ok, OK I know I keep posting links to Big O but here's a weekend treat for all y'all!
Over on Big O they have posted a Ry Cooder Showtime Special.....we can't have enough Ryland P Cooder now can we.......? NO, we can't!

Now this is the time that figures as one of my favourite periods for the live Cooder, largely for the band with Bobby King & Terry Evans on vocals, Flaco Jimenez on accordion and as a special treat Van Dyke Parks on keyboards but it figures some of my all time favourite songs; Little Sister, If Walls Could Talk, Jesus on the Mainline and Dark End of The Street (first discovered a la Ry but I now collect versions of this wonderful song about secret love and number about 50 thus far and counting.) It also features a track they call Teeny Weeny Bit which I have on Bobby and Terry's fine fine album...'Live and Let Live' which also features the definitive version of Dark End..... IMHO. Get it for that alone and you won't be disappointed. It is listed there as 'Just a Little Bit' which I rate as one of the sexiest songs ever committed to vinyl but hey, each to their own huh? Try it....just a little bit! Difficult to get over here but try it on Amazon in the USA and import it....they have a download MP3 version there too if'n you cin geddit!

Enjoy! If'n ya miss it worry not as I will post it meself when it has gone from the Big O pages......

And remember the very thing that makes her rich makes me poor!

Can you dig it? I think you can!