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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Look at this beautiful painting! It is in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam which stands as one of my favourite museums I have ever visited, the journey through Vincent's life is one of the most moving it has been my privilege to witness but it is possible to miss little gems to the more famous and showy (if you will?) paintings so this is worth a look and just bowls me over in it's approaching perfection. 

I re-blog this from the wonderful  'DayintoNight' weblog 

A Crab on its BackParis, August-September 1887 Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890)oil on canvas, 38.0 cm x 46.8 cm Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation) Van Gogh took the idea of painting a crab from Japanese prints. He had found the same subject there. Vincent and his brother Theo collected colourful Japanese woodcuts.
Here, Van Gogh painted the crab in bright shades of red against a green background. He was experimenting with what he called ‘the laws of colour’described by the French painter Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). According to this theory, colours like red and green form a pair. They are known as complementary because, when placed side by side, they both have a stronger effect. Van Gogh was a great admirer of Delacroix and had learned about his colour theory from books by Charles Blanc.

“Perhaps, when we remember wars, we should take off our clothes and paint ourselves blue and go on all fours all day long and grunt like pigs. That would surely be more appropriate than noble oratory and shows of flags and well-oiled guns.” 

“My Mother dies of pneumonia when I was just a kid. My Father kept their wedding cake in the freezer for ten whole years. After the funeral he gave it to the yard man. He tried to act cheerful but he could never be consoled by the little stranger he found in his house. Then one day hoping to begin a new life away from the scene of all these memories he moved us from Texas to Port Dupree, South Dakota… Little did I realize that what began in the alleys and back ways of this quiet town would end in the Badlands of Montana.”
– Holly Sargis, “Badlands”


Songs I bought when they came out another from Jeff Harris' wonderful music blog  

On this day in music history: May 30, 1966 - “Paperback Writer” / “Rain” by The Beatles is released (UK release is on June 10, 1966). Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the first track to emerge from the recording sessions that produce the “Revolver” album. McCartney comes up with the idea for the song after having a conversation with one of his aunts, asking him if he can write something that wasn’t about love or romantic involvement. During a writing session at Kenwood, John Lennon’s home in Weybridge, McCartney sees an article in the newspaper The Daily Mail about an aspiring author. The pair write the lyrics in the form of a letter to a publisher, with the author asking that they consider publishing it. Recorded at Abbey Road Studios on April 13 - 14, 1966, the basic track of the song is perfected in two takes, with the first take breaking down before complete. The single marks McCartney’s first use of his recently acquired Rickenbacker 4001 bass on a Beatles single, producing a clearer and more defined tone than his venerable Hofner bass. The band having complained about the lack of bass on their records (compared to American R&B records), recording engineer Geoff Emerick devises a way of getting a louder bass sound by using another loudspeaker as a microphone, also using a piece of outboard gear created by EMI’s technical engineers called “Automatic Transient Overload Control” during the mastering process.“Rain” (written primarily by John) is inspired when the band are on tour in Australia in 1965, when they arrive in Melbourne in poor weather. Recorded between April 14 - 16, 1966 at Abbey Road, the song is recorded with the four track machine running at a slightly slower speed with the band playing the rhythm track at a faster pace, so that the track and vocals take on a different texture on playback at normal speed. Lennon also hits upon the idea of having part of his vocal playing back backwards when he takes a work tape home and accidentally puts the tape on upside down. He likes how it sounds so much, that he has George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick to take part of his vocal from the master, copy it and insert the backward vocal into the final master. “Paperback Writer” becomes The Beatles thirteenth US number one single on June 25, 1966 (2 weeks non-consecutive). The B-side “Rain” (written by John Lennon, also credited to Lennon - McCartney), peaking at #23 on the Hot 100 on July 9, 1966.
One of my favourite BEATLE singles of all time, I bought this when it came out here as my brother had bought the album and we were both quite blown away by the 'new' sound . . . . . they remain two of my favourite songs of the period. Play it again now and be transported . . . . . . . Fab!

On this day in music history: May 30, 1964 - “England’s Newest Hit Makers”, the US debut album by The Rolling Stones is released. Produced by Andrew Loog Oldham, it is recorded at Regent Sound Studios in London from January 3 - February 25, 1964. Recorded in just five days worth of studio time spread over a six week period, the album features mostly R&B and blues covers the band has been performing as part of their live act. The US title of the album is amended from its original eponymous title, and includes the bands first two American singles “Not Fade Away” (#3 UK, #48 US Pop) and “Tell Me (You’re Coming Back”) (#24 US Pop). Original US pressings also include a color reproduction of the cover photo inserted inside the sleeve. Over time, these have become quite rare and are sought after collector’s items among Stones fans. The album is remastered and reissued a hybrid SACD (Super Audio Compact Disc) in 2002. Out of print on vinyl since the late 80’s, it is reissued as a 180 gram LP in 2003. This vinyl release has been supplanted by the mono reissue of the original UK album, included in the box set “The Rolling Stones In Mono” released in 2016. “England’s Newest Hit Makers” peaks at number eleven on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.

Note this album doesn't really count amongst the bought when it first came out but stands as one of the most influential as my brother bought it and a bit like the earliest Dylan I heard it was as important as any and in this case not least for intruding me to the expression of black music, however much we might come to know they were 'stolen' the Chuck Berry et al and sources for Rock 'N' Roll were largely introduced to the British youth of the time by The Beatles, The Stones, Pretty Things, Van Morrison and Them and the Animals . . . . the first BRITISH Rollings Stones album released by Decca Records in the UK on 16 April 1964 is still a classic and should IMHO be in everyone's collection . The emphasis from the excellent Jeff Harris' blog is on the US versions from all these bands and this is no exception but it is oddly circuitous to have it back in full circle back in the country of origin of most of the songs. Only later would they express themselves with more original material . . . . . . 

The track listing on the UK version is:

Track listing[edit]

Side one
1."Route 66"Bobby Troup2:20
2."I Just Want to Make Love to You"Willie Dixon2:17
3."Honest I Do"Jimmy Reed2:09
4."Mona (I Need You Baby)"Ellas McDaniel3:33
5."Now I've Got a Witness (Like Uncle Phil and Uncle Gene)"Nanker Phelge2:29
6."Little by Little"Nanker Phelge, Phil Spector2:39
Side two
7."I'm a King Bee"James Moore2:35
8."Carol"Chuck Berry2:33
9."Tell Me (You're Coming Back)"Mick JaggerKeith Richards4:05
10."Can I Get a Witness"Brian HollandLamont DozierEddie Holland2:55
11."You Can Make It If You Try"Ted Jarrett2:01
12."Walking the Dog"Rufus Thomas3:10

The opener of Route 66 remains a stunner of an opening track from any album ANYWHERE!


singles bought when they came out . . . . . . .another from Jeff Harris' wonderful music blog 

On this day in music history: May 30, 1980 - “Peter Gabriel 3” (aka “Melt”), the third studio album by Peter Gabriel is released. Produced by Steve Lillywhite, it is recorded in Bath, UK with the Manor Mobile Studio, and The Town House in London from Summer and Autumn 1979 - Winter 1980. With his first two albums receiving critical acclaim, but only garnering modest sales in the US, Atlantic Records drops Peter Gabriel from their roster at the suggestion of A&R man John Kolodner. Kolodner hears Gabriel’s third album, believing that it “isn’t commercial enough”. Mercury Records acquires the rights to release the album in the US. It features guest appearances from musicians such as Kate Bush, Paul Weller, and Gabriel’s former Genesis band mate Phil Collins who plays drums and sing background vocals on several tracks. Like his previous two albums, it is issued without an official title. It becomes known as “Melt” because of the cover photo by Hipgnosis which features a Polaroid snapshot of Gabriel that has been rubbed with a pencil eraser while developing, smearing the emulsion. It spins off three singles including “I Don’t Remember” (#107 US Pop) and “Games Without Frontiers” (#4 UK, #48 US Pop). With the album becoming Gabriel’s biggest seller to date, John Kolodner realizes his error in having the musician dropped from Atlantic, and signs him to Geffen Records in 1981 after he becomes the head of A&R for the label. Reissued several times since making its CD debut in 1987, it is most recently remastered and reissued in 2011. Both the original English and German language versions of “Melt” are remastered and reissued in 2015 as double vinyl 45 RPM 180 gram pressings, and are half-speed mastered. Both are individually numbered with the German version limited to 3,000 copies and the English version limited to 10,000 copies worldwide. “Peter Gabriel 3” hits number one on the UK album chart, peaking number twenty two on the Billboard Top 200, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
I should come clean and confess that as I sound as middle class as it gets buying albums and singles from about the age of 13 onward, often I found the singles mentioned here in jukebox clearance sales for a matter of pence and some were almost unplayable. The more unpopular the single the better the condition. This single which I adored not least for seeing it on The Old Grey Whistle Test with Whispering Bob 'Bomber' Harris, the condition revealed that it was probably hardly played on the jukebox from whence mine came. under 50p for sure . . . I wasn't made of money!

Monday, May 29, 2017


In case anyone had been wondering, the sad demise of music weblog par excellence bar none Willard's Wormholes has given up the ghost and like many fans I had been worrying he had been ill or worse but the news is after ten years he had merely had enough. Our terrible loss is best explained here . . . . . . . at fellow bloggers BB Chronicles and Powerpop . . . . . . . 

Thanks Willard, you will be missed . . . . . . . . 

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Gregg Allman 

Now I guess it would be hypocritical of me to say anything today other than I was not a fan of the Allman Brothers but the death of Gregg one of the founders and brother to guitarist superstar Duane is clearly a great loss to music. I celebrate the life of someone who struggled with substance abuse namely heroin addiction and alcohol misuse all his life having undergone a liver transplant and struggled with Hep and he was someone who sang and wrote and played keyboards on so many of the Allman Bros hits. I never was very struck by any of the musicians from the Southern rock schtick but that they were amongst the best, if not the best, at it is indisputable. Rest easy now . . . . . . 
Dead at 69 - R.I.P. Gregg Allman

Francis Bacon 

An unfinished canvas was on an easel when Francis Bacon died, first thought to be a self-portrait, it actually resembles Bacon’s lover George Dyer and now resides in the collection of the Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
Classic Cuts

obviously not one of the 'bought when they came out' series but rather a classic cuts track that should belong in every record collection (vinyl to you youngsters!) I discovered Louis Jordan in my twenties and then spotted them in Tom and Jerry cartoons and all over the gosh darned place once I 'got' it! I have pretty much everything and they are truly truly great here's a favourite track 'Caldonia'! What makes your Big Head so hard?!

Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens!

Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five - Caldonia (Single)

1,707 plays
 Louis Jordan & His Tympany Five-Caldonia
Continuing the sounds purchased when they came out series (singles or albums) there is this . . . . Disillusioned by what was going on in rock with Zep and Phil Collins et al, and even McCartney & Wings with Venus and Mars where I left them, the whimsy being too much and the smugrock being too over produced and self satisfied, mt earlier rock heroes having become middle of the road, there came a new sound on the block bubbling up from the streets. I bought the first album (Never Mind The Bollocks . . ) with a free single of 'God Saves . . .' inside or with it and no it's not the A&M version but the Virgin one . . . . . . it is still a really fine album and with Matlock on bass and Steve Jones and Paul Cook they made arguably one of the finest loud power houses of punk theatre there ever was . . . . . . Pretty Vacant was good too. TURN IT UP! F@*K iT!

On this day in music history: May 27, 1977 - “God Save The Queen” by The Sex Pistols is released. Written by Paul Cook, Steve Jones, John Lydon and Glen Matlock, it is the biggest hit for the seminal English punk rock band fronted by lead singer Johnny Rotten. Written and recorded shortly after The Sex Pistols are unceremoniously dropped by their first label EMI Records, the song takes its title from the national anthem of the United Kingdom. It is the last single by the band to feature bassist Glen Matlock, before he leaves the band in February of 1977 and is replaced by Sid Vicious. Issued as their first single for their new label Virgin Records, after A&M Records signs then quickly drops the band before releasing the song. “Queen” is strategically released to coincide with the Silver Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation, and immediately sparks controversy. To promote the record, The Pistols stage a performance on June 7, 1977, playing aboard a boat not so coincidentally called the Queen Elizabeth on the River Thames near the Palace Of Westminster. The band, manager Malcolm McLaren and several members of the Pistols entourage are arrested after the boat docks. Both the BBC and the IBA ban it from any radio airplay or television exposure, feeling that it is disrespectful and a direct assault on the monarchy. But the ban does not prevent the single from being a huge seller right out of the gate. It peaks at #2 on the UK singles chart despite the ban, though it is widely disputed that the single was indeed the #1 selling record in England at the time. Rod Stewart’s “I Don’t Want To Talk About It/The First Cut Is The Deepest” is listed as the number one single on the official charts. The singles picture sleeve artwork is designed by artist Jamie Reid and features a portrait of the Queen with the song title and band name covering her eyes and mouth. Copies of the original withdrawn A&M pressing of “Queen” are now valued at between £500 to £13,000 / $785 to 20,387 in US dollars, with only a small handful of legitimate copies known to still be in existence. In 2012, Virgin Records reissues “God Save The Queen” for its thirty-fifth anniversary, in tandem with the Diamond Jubilee Of Queen Elizabeth II. Lead singer John Lydon openly voices his displeasure at the re-release, feeling that it undermines the original intent and message of the song. The reissue of “Queen” peaks at #80 on the UK singles chart.  

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Thanks to Aquarium Drunkard (again) for posting this and telling us all about it . . . . . . . great great song

No stranger to covers, Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy returned to the fold earlier this month via his latest long-player, Best TroubadorAn inspired collection of Merle Haggard covers, the vinyl edition of the double album arrived with a little lagniappe* on the side: “No Time to Cry” – an Iris DeMent tune that Haggard covered on his album, 1996. And for those of you sans a turntable, behold — today a video popped up. . .P.S. whatchoo doin' without a turntable BTW!? Back to Vinyl folks! It never left Swappers Mansions!!

 *we like a lagniappe over here at Swappers Mansions and for those not in the know it is possibly best described as the 13th doughnut given away with a dozen . . . . . 

Thursday, May 25, 2017

On this day: singles bought when they came out . . . . . . . didn't find the picture sleeve for this and had the black sleeve like this but what a moment in music history! 

On this day in music history: May 24, 1969 - “Get Back” by The Beatles With Billy Preston hits #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for 5 weeks. Written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, it is the seventeenth US chart topper for “The Fab Four”. The single is the first music to emerge from the recording sessions that produce the “Let It Be” album and documentary film. The “hit single version” of the track is recorded at Apple Studios in London on January 27, 1969, after weeks of rehearsing and recording various takes of the song. At the invitation of George Harrison, musician Billy Preston will play keyboards (mainly electric piano and organ) during the sessions for two weeks. The Beatles enjoy his playing and affable personality so much that they give him co-billing on the single when it is released (the only time another musician is credited along side the band). “Get Back” is also The Beatles first single to be issued in stereo in the US (mono in the UK). An alternate, shorter take of the song appears on the “Let It Be” album when it is released a year later in May 1970. It is released the UK the Friday before Easter Sunday on April 11, 1969, with the US release date being on May 5, 1969. The delay being caused by Paul McCartney deciding to remix the track again days before its scheduled release in the UK, with US release date also being pushed back. In spite of this, the single is an immediate smash. The Beatles tie their own previous record for the highest ever chart debut on the Hot 100 (set by “Hey Jude” eight months earlier) when “Get Back” enters the chart at #10 on May 10, 1969, leapfrogging to the top of the chart two weeks later. “Get Back” is certified 2x Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
Curiously whilst the A-side is an obvious classic and a song in the public canon somehow unavoidably great, I remain haunted by the b-side 'Don't Let Me Down' struck me as being like the primal scream stuff John would do later, but this is a heartfelt tortured song asking to not be hurt that was ever committed to record IMHO
another from Jeff Harris' wonderful music blog  
On this . . . Bobby's birthday!
On this day in music history: May 24, 1968 - “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” by The Rolling Stones is released (US release date is on June 1, 1968). Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, it is the eighteenth US (seventeenth UK) single by the iconic London based rock band fronted by lead vocalist Mick Jagger. In early 1968, Jagger is staying at band mate Keith Richards countryside home Redlands in West Wittering, Sussex, UK, while the pair are working on material for the next Rolling Stones album. Mick is awoken one morning by the sound of Richards’ gardener Jack Dyer walking past his window. When Mick asks who it is, Keith replies, “Oh that’s Jack, jumpin’ jack”. Jagger takes Richards statement, and is immediately inspired to begin writing lyrics. Keith comes up with main riff and chords that evolve into “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”, with the pair finishing the song quickly. The track is recorded at Olympic Studios in London on April 20, 1968 during sessions for the bands next album “Beggar’s Banquet”. Keith achieves the songs unique guitar sound by using a Gibson Hummingbird acoustic guitar tuned to an open D chord, then placing a capo on the neck. He then records the guitar (actually two guitars, with the second tuned to a higher octave) with a Philips cassette recorder using the players external condenser mic, then bouncing it back to multi-track tape. Issued as a stand alone single, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” marks the Stones return to their trademark blues rooted sound after experimenting with psychedelic music on their two previous albums. In time, it is regarded as one of the bands greatest and most often covered songs. The single is backed with non-LP B-side “Child Of The Moon”. At the time of the singles release, it is accompanied by a promotional film directed by Michael Lindsey-Hogg (“Let It Be”), in which The Rolling Stones perform the song with all of the band members appearing with painted faces and heavy makeup. The songs title also becomes the basis of and major plot point of a Penny Marshall directed comedy in 1986 starring Whoopi Goldberg. Aretha Franklin records a cover of the song for the film, produced by Keith Richards, who also plays guitar on the track. The Rolling Stones original version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” hits number one on the UK singles chart, peaking at number three on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1968, and is certified Gold in the US by the RIAA.
another from Jeff Harris' wonderful music blog  
For Bob Dylan 76th Birthday yesterday  . . . . . . . 24th May 2017

 . . . . . and it's a hard rain's gonna fall


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

More from Peter G - singles I bought when they came out . . . . .an ongoing series

7,757 plays

Sledgehammer // Peter Gabriel

Serge and Jane in Oxfordshire

for diamonddave who dropped by to say "Hi!' 

Serg & Jane visit Blenheim Palace

Serg & Jane at The Radcliffe Camera in Oxford

Serg & Jane wonder whether to take the bus

Serg & Jane end up driving through Yarnton!

Albums I bought when they came out . . . . . . . 
1966 Safe As Milk Mono Vinyl LP

I have this album in various pressings from three different labels and forget now which (Buddha and Marble Arch for two . . . ) but the original is the best in mono! Back to Valve! Back to Mono!


Always enjoy another ROIO of Leonard Cohen and miss him but we have his writing and his songs. This concert was to push his album 'Recent Songs' featuring Jennifer Warner and Sharon Robinson there latter being responsible for re-igniting his creative muse and getting him to write and record again and so this is a FM broadcast from Germany that is great quality and really worth getting. Great notes too over at Big O

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Our thoughts are with the victims of the Manchester attack.

Sikhs at the vigil for the victims of the bombing of Manchester Arena May 2017

Andy Burnham - Mayor of Manchester [in post only a few weeks]

Vigil tonight for the people in Manchester

just because . . . . . . 

Jimi Hendrix - All Along The Watchtower
Wonderful radio 4 interview with one of my all time heroes, Andy Partridge from XTC talking about his career as an artist and 'pop star'!
The Voices of . . . . . Andy Partridge

Brought up on a council estate in Swindon, Andy Partridge's escape from the poverty of his working class upbringing followed a classic path - art and music. At 15, he enrolled in what he calls the 'art floor' of the local college - Swindon didn't boast an actual art college. Then, he discovered the magnetic power of carrying around his Dad's old guitar. He didn't even have to play it to find himself the centre of attention. In the years that followed - and in the wake of the punk explosion - he tasted celebrity and success with his band XTC. His curious vocal style and angular compositions were distinctive and influential. XTC built a cult status with songs such as Making Plans for Nigel and Senses Working Overtime, as well as albums including the acclaimed Skylarking.
But Swindon didn't lose Andy for long, despite the lure of London and New York. He lives there still, now with his American partner. And he's still writing songs - including for the recent album by the reformed Monkees.
In this programme, he talks about the trajectory of his career and the 'art blood' that has consistently flowed through his veins.
Produced by Alan Hall
A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4

Hope it remains available and is a really interesting document from this fascinating artist and unique singer/songwriter. Semi-reclusive and self admitted loner he stands as a contemporary Dadaist,
thinker and truly creative musical composer who fascinatingly goes on the record saying it has taken him until now to find his 'voice' and earlier on always said he can't play the guitar. Self deprecating and brutally honest he remains a true artist hero of mine

Our thoughts are with the victims of the Manchester attack.

22 people dead and 59 reported injured at the Manchester Arena last night at 10.30pm attending an Ariana Grande concert 
so mostly very young people many in her demographic noted as 6-12 years old and young teens in particular.
Ariana touchingly tweeted as she had finished the concert "broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don't have words." which summarised many responses including my own in response to this senseless, cowardly attack upon our most innocent of youngsters going to a music concert. It is believed by the authorities that a lone suicide bomber was responsible and they were or are known to the authorities but as the investigation carries it relentless way forward, we spend today and the next days sending all our love and thoughts out to those who have lost loved ones, the families and injured still recovering and to those still searching for missing loved ones who still remain unaccounted for. 

A word goes out also to those who helped the staggering professionalism of our emergency services, fire, police and ambulance men and women,  nurses, doctors in the eight hospitals involved in caring for the injured [there being such a surge of staff rushing in to help that they had to be asked to go home as they would be needed later spread and organised across shift later in the days and weeks ahead] but also the taxi drivers charged with carrying people through the city of Manchester for no charge, to the hoteliers and house owners who threw open their doors for those stuck or in need of a place to rest overnight. This is the British way and I would say, especially although I was born on Merseyside my parent's were both Mancunian, and thus typically northern.

Our thoughts and love go out to all touched by this monstrous act.

Monday, May 22, 2017


“There used to be a situation where we’d go in as we did when we were kids, pick up our guitars, all learn the tune and chords and start talking about arrangements. But there came a time … when Paul had fixed an idea in his brain as to how to record one of his songs … It was taken to the most ridiculous situations, where I’d open my guitar case and go to get my guitar out and he’d say, ‘No, no, we’re not doing that yet.’ … It got so there was very little to do, other than sit around and hear him going, 'Fixing a hole …’ with Ringo keeping the time.” - George Harrison
“I think a lot of his solos were very distinctive and made the records. He didn’t sound like any other guitarist. The very early days we were really kids and we didn’t think at all professionally. We were just kids being led through this amazing wonderland of the music business. We didn’t know how it went at all - a fact that I’m kind of glad of ‘cos I think it meant that we made it up. So we ended up making things up that people then would later emulate rather than us emulating stuff that we’d been told. In the very early days, it was pretty exciting. I remember going to auditions at Decca and each of us did pretty well, y’know. We were in a pub afterwards having a drink and kind of debriefing and coming down off the excitement, but we were still pretty high off it all…” – Sir Paul McCartney