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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Talking Heads :: Stardust Ballroom – Los Angeles, Sept. 28, 1979

Really interesting article from Aquarium Drunkard this morning featuring my band of bands, Talking Heads. Here . . . . . . 

Talking Heads Stardust Ballroom LA 1979 - Aquarium Drunkard 

By the close of the 1970s, Talking Heads had come a long way in a shockingly short period of time. After emerging as a minimalist three-piece at CBGBs in ’75 centered around the nervous presence of David Byrne, the band expanded their sonic palette in ways that had to have seemed unimaginable to anyone who caught them on the Bowery early on. With the addition of former Modern Lover Jerry Harrison and the innovative production skills of Brian Eno, they became one of the most cutting-edge groups of the period. But unlike many of their peers, they were also achieving no small amount of popular success at the same time. A lot of this success had to do with Byrne and Co.’s incendiary live show

Another live special from Leon for all you sinners out there . . . . . .

  . . . . . "if you know the words please hum along!"

Thursday, May 30, 2019


"Oh behave yourselves"


Leon Redbone meant a great deal to me and I think I have every album so I am especially sad to hear reports announcing his death at 69. In keeping with everything Redbone and a nod of the fedora (or pith helmet!) to his roots music of a different era, the announcement mentioned his age as 127!

Humour was never far away with Leon's choice of song to cover and specialised, like Ry Cooder, in researching really old vaudeville and roots songs from the 'Sheik of Araby' to 'Champagne Charlie' to dance band numbers of the turn of the twentieth century dance band music from 'Diddy Wah Diddy' to 'Seduced', to 'Shine on Harvest Moon' and 'Up a Lazy River' or even 'Polly Wolly Doodle'. Bob Dylan discovered him early on at the Mariposa Folk Festival and mentioned him in an interview with Rolling Stone causing them to feature an article on him a year before anyone had signed him to a recording deal. 

Leon was notably mysterious about his origins and even his identity (some folks claimed he was in fact Andy Kauffman or even Frank Zappa!He would outlive them both) and he often laid claim to having written many songs composed in Tin Pan Alley long before he was even born but in fact was born in Cyprus to Armenian parents. In the sixties they lived in London but emigrated to Canada. 
He was unique and accompanied on his little parlour guitar with the ever present moustache and stylish headgear with those mellifluous tones crooning out the oldest and loveliest and often most hilarious of classics, Only Leon perhaps could talk Dr John into covering Frosty The Snowman [sic]! I recall my mother was astonished to find out about him and loved that we shared an interest in his music. She adored him too!

Leon passed away this morning aged 69 in a hospice in Pennsylvania

I for one will miss him sorely.

Maybe for those who didn't know him . . . . . . 


The nearest he came to hit in the UK was this that had been used for an advert for . . .the railways I believe (actually an INTERCITY PROMO)

In typical whimsical fashion it seem Redbone had prepared his own announcement, having retired from performing back in 2015 for 'health reasons' his website stated:

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that early this morning, May 30th, 2019, Leon Redbone crossed the delta for that beautiful shore at the age of 127,” it read. “He departed our world with his guitar, his trusty companion Rover, and a simple tip of his hat. He’s interested to see what Blind Blake, Emmett, and Jelly Roll have been up to in his absence and has plans for a rousing sing along number with Sári Barabás. An eternity of pouring through texts in the Library of Ashurbanipal will be a welcome repose, perhaps followed by a shot or two of whiskey with Lee Morse, and some long overdue discussions with his favorite Uncle, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites. To his fans, friends, and loving family who have already been missing him so in this realm he says, ‘Oh behave yourselves. Thank you…. and good evening everybody.'”
Good night, Leon


1917 Jazz standard "Dark Town Strutters Ball" by Shelton Brooks recorded by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band

1968 - The Beatles
The Beatles began recording what became known as The White Album. The double-LP whose official title was simply ‘The Beatles’ became the first Beatles album released with the Apple label. The first track they recorded was ‘Revolution’. With Paul's strong social interests and links to the art world (Robert Fraser et al) they approached Richard Hamilton, the father of 'Pop' in Britain, to design the sleeve and between them they worked on it being a pastiche of limited edition art works being a plain white sleeve but embossed with the name and printed consecutive numbers a la limited edition art works. Inside the sleeve consisted of a number of free gifts as it were including portrait photos by John Kelly and a poster designed by Hamilton who had been given access to the Beatles personal snapshots

1970 - Ray Stevens
Ray Stevens went to No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Everything Is Beautiful'. The former DJ had a string of novelty hits, including 'Jeremiah Peabody's Poly Unsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green & Purple Pill'.

1987 - David Bowie
David Bowie kicked off his 87-date Glass Spider world tour at the Feyenoord Stadium, Rotterdam, Holland. The tour's set, described at the time as "the largest touring set ever," was designed to look like a giant spider. It was 60 feet (18.3m) high, 64 feet (19.5m) wide and included giant vacuumed tube legs that were lit from the inside with 20,000' (6,096m) of color-changing lights. A single set took 43 trucks to move.

2002 - Diana Ross
Diana Ross voluntarily entered a Malibu drug and alcohol rehabilitation center called Promises to "clear up some personal issues" before setting out on a summer concert tour. 
and of course there were reasons . . . . . . . 
BBC On this day . . . Diana Ross stopped for DUI

2005 - Coldplay
Coldplay's new album 'X&Y' was illegally put on the internet a week before its UK and US release. The leak took place on the day copies were sent to UK radio stations and the day before it went on sale in Japan. Security measures around the release included hosting album playbacks at Abbey Road studios for journalists instead of sending them copies of the album, any CDs that were sent out were labelled with a false name - The Fir Trees - to throw would-be pirates off the scent.

2007 - The White Stripes
A leaked copy of the new White Stripes album 'Icky Thump' was played completely on Chicago's radio station Q101-WKQX. Jack White personally called the US radio station from Spain, where he was touring, to voice his displeasure.

2007 - Phil Spector
A coroner told the murder trial of music producer Phil Spector that US actress Lana Clarkson's death was a homicide. Dr Louis Pena said bruising suggested the barrel of a gun may have been forced into Ms Clarkson's mouth before she was fatally shot in 2003. Spector was accused of murdering Clarkson on 3 February 2003 at his home in California.

2009 - Black Sabbath
Ozzy Osbourne was suing the band's guitarist Tony Iommi over royalty payments. The 60-year-old had accused Iommi of falsely claiming to have sole rights to the band's name which has cost him royalties from merchandise sales. Osbourne was seeking unspecified damages, lost profits and a declaration he is a half-owner of the trademark. Iommi claims Osbourne legally relinquished rights to the band's name in the 1980s. Osbourne said he believed all four original members of the band should share Black Sabbath's name equally.

2016 - Kraftwerk
Germany's highest court ruled in favour of a hip-hop artist who used a two-second sample of music from the pioneering electro-pop band Kraftwerk. Kraftwerk's Ralf Hutter sued Moses Pelham, alleging that his use of the clip, without asking, infringed the band's intellectual property rights. But the German Constitutional Court decided that the impact on Kraftwerk did not outweigh "artistic freedom".


1960 - Stephen Duffy
Stephen Duffy, singer, songwriter, guitarist, founding member of Duran Duran with John Taylor and Nick Rhodes (left in 1979). Member of Lilac Time, Me Me Me, (1996 UK No.19 singe 'Hanging Around'), solo, (1985 UK No.4 single 'Kiss Me').

1968 - Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess, singer, songwriter with English indie rock band The Charlatans who had the 1990 UK No.9 single 'The Only One I Know'. In the UK, all of the band's thirteen studio albums have charted in the Top 40 of the UK Albums Chart, three of them being No.1s.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019


May 29th

1913 - Igor Stravinsky
Igor Stravinsky's ballet score "The Rite of Spring" premieres in Paris, provoking a riot

1942 - Bing Crosby
Bing Crosby recorded the Irving Berlin song 'White Christmas'. Crosby recorded the song with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra and the Ken Darby Singers in just 18 minutes. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the version sung by Bing Crosby is the best-selling single of all time, with estimated sales in excess of 50 million copies worldwide.

Richard Hamilton. I'm Dreaming of White Christmas. screen print Tate Gallery
Richard Hamilton. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. 1967 

Richard Hamilton. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas Screen print and wash 1967

Richard Hamilton. I'm dreaming of white Christmas, 1967-68 screen print
all richard's images © The estate of Richard Hamilton
1965 - Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan's album 'Bringing It All Back Home' was at No.1 on the UK charts, his second UK No.1 album. The black and white pamphlet lying across the Time magazine with President Lyndon B. Johnson on the cover is a publication of the Earth Society, who saw its mission as protecting earth from collisions with comets and planets.

Daniel Kramer outtake from the session featuring Bob and his manager's wife Sally Grossman

1971 - The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones started a two week run at No.1 on the US singles chart with 'Brown Sugar', from Sticky Fingers. The first single released on Rolling Stones Records, it was the bands sixth US No.1, and a No.2 hit in the UK. The songs lyrics, which are essentially a pastiche of a number of taboo subjects, include: interracial sex, cunnilingus, slave rape, and less distinctly, sadomasochism, lost virginity, and heroin.

1997 - Jeff Buckley
Singer songwriter Jeff Buckley disappeared after talking a swim in the Mississippi River, his body was found on 4th June 1997 after being spotted by a passenger on a tourist riverboat. One of the finest debut albums in the history of music and such a great sad sad loss to us all. I know of no-one who doesn't own this debut album, Grace.

Based loosely, but more closely than Leonard Cohen's original, Jeff clearly referred to John Cale's wonderful version re-arrangement of 'Hallelujah' and I thought it a work of wonder. While John's had long been my favourite as soon as Jeff stepped up to the mic Cale's came second!
2005 - Gorillaz
Gorillaz scored their first UK No.1 album when 'Demon Days' went to the top of the charts.

2009 - Phil Spector
Phil Spector was jailed for at least 19 years for murdering an actress in 2003. The producer, 69, famed for his Wall of Sound recording technique, was found guilty of shooting Lana Clarkson at his California home. Spector had pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder during the five-month retrial in Los Angeles. His lawyers said he would appeal. Spector was given a sentence of 15 years to life for second-degree murder and an additional four years for personal use of a gun.

Spector in court

Phil Spector mugshot 


1945 - Gary Brooker
Gary Brooker, English singer, songwriter, pianist, founder and lead singer of the rock band Procol Harum who had the 1967 UK No.1 and US No.5 single A Whiter Shade Of Pale. (one of the few singles to have sold over 10 million copies) and scored the hits 'Homburg', 'Conquistador'. Brooker founded The Paramounts in 1962 with his guitarist friend Robin Trower and has also worked with Eric Clapton, Alan Parsons and Ringo Starr.

1949 - Francis Rossi
Francis Rossi, guitarist, singer, songwriter with Status Quo. The group have had over 60 chart hits in the UK, more than any other rock band, including 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' in 1967, 'Whatever You Want' in 1979 and 'In the Army Now' in 2010. Twenty-two of these reached the Top 10 in the UK. In July 1985 the band opened Live Aid at Wembley Stadium with 'Rockin' All Over the World'. In their prime . . . . . . 

1967 - Noel Gallagher
English singer, songwriter and guitarist Noel Gallagher, Oasis. First single was the 1994 UK No.31 single 'Supersonic', followed by the 1994 UK No.1 album 'Definitely Maybe' which became the fastest selling UK debut album ever. Their third studio album, 'Be Here Now' (1997), became the fastest-selling album in UK chart history. Gallagher now fronts Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.
The intelligent Gallagher has been getting more and more interesting later in life but his growing up and learning the guitar in public schtick tired me really early. The Oasis material left me totally cold and it really depended on how fast Noel learnt the guitar. It just took longer than I think anyone, expected! Featuring with Gorrilaz lately and other solo material finally seemed like an arrival of a pro but as he is in his forties it took him a while. The guttural howling and simian antics of his brother were laughably amateur and the fact he couldn't sing either didn't help. Violent, aggressive hooligan yobbishness notwithstanding suggest someone with 'issues' that need addressing still . The two brothers now seem unable to speak at all and the youngest of the two seems to lack any emotional intelligence whatsoever. 


Americana Dark

Strange Conversation

Someone gave me a heads up on this scrumptious lady with the smoky voice and here covering the Sonny and Cher ( I kid you not) classic [sic] pop song made more . . . .well Mandy! Johnnie Hiatt on backing vocals make this a swamp rock beast from the tents on the plains next to the snake oil salesman! 'A Cowboy's Work Is Never Done' could be straight from the soundtrack of True Detective
Enjoy! I know I did . . . . . . 

Let's have some more . . . . 



More people have died climbing (or more correctly queuing) on Mt Everest in the past few weeks than during all of last year (11 and rising) but the toll just keeps on rising and the slopes of the mountain are covered in the remains of some several hundred people who have perished over the years trying to master the highest mountain in the world. 

This is partly due to the existence of the 'death zone' so called because above that height you cannot breath and require oxygen. Now this apparently varies around the globe but on Everest is about 8,000 metres (26,247 feet) and where you simply cannot breathe and should switch to oxygen tanks. If you don't, then merely standing there above that height, you will die! My senses inform me that anything requiring apparatus is a non-starter. Don't even bother. At that height helicopters cannot rescue you, it is too high for them. This should give you a clue! 

For me anything that possesses a feature called a 'death zone' ought to be a bit of a giveaway and causes me to stay right here. Now don't get me wrong I like the countryside and and indeed have climbed up Snowdon (well it's a walk really and very pleasant it was too) several times. It's 1,085 metres (3,560 ft) and the Llanberis Pass is easy for youngsters but takes about 5-7 hours dependent upon your age and fitness and is about a nine mile walk. I have walked up Cadair Idris (893 m (2,930 ft) which I enjoyed several times over the years too but then things started to get more difficult and I started to think you know what? I think I'll stay down here in the pub!

As I have said many many times before, I went to college with folk who liked climbing mountains and rock faces, cliffs etc and when I asked them why they always said the famous line "Because it's there!" to which my retort was always 'Well, so is my armchair and my television!"