Archives for posts with tag: music

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Something wonderful this way comes, a rock ‘n’ roll circus by the name of Kochka. Over the past three years, this fine 4-piece band have been thrilling audiences across the country with their dazzling and original songs. As their fans know, Kochka are like no other band and have their very own distinct and impressive sound – a mix of cabaret and carnival. Last November Kochka released their superbly theatrical 12-track debut album The Entropic Biopic of a Quixotic Psychotic, and now they  have just released a promo for the track “Carousel-o-tape”. Inspired by their music, i contacted the band to find out more.
 
Who’s in Kochka and how did you all meet?
 
‘It was after a bet went terribly wrong and we were forced into a room together with nothing but a banjo and an old video recording of Watership Down. Sheryll (drums and hits) and Stewart (guitar and screaming) already knew each other from high school and Markk (vocals and handclaps) came soon after. After a couple of different guises and line-ups, Scott (bass and foot stomps) joined as Kochka was being formed into the band today.
 
‘Immediately as this line-up formed we felt comfortable and were musically in the same space. It was easy to start writing music and letting the music take the direction it wanted to. There wasn’t any constraints or boundaries. Mayhem ensued.’
 
Kochka have been praised for their songs and their live performances, can you tell me about your approach to music? 
 
‘The band is centred around a similar idea of making music; get in a room, start playing and hitting things. We dont think about it too much. It allows things to be rawer. If a song gets pulled in a certain direction we allow it to go. Nothing is ever put in a song because of convention. If the song is to be 55 seconds long with no chorus, then so be it.
 
‘We dont take ourselves too seriously. We love to make music, play live shows and have fun.We stand out in the Glasgow scene for this reason. Many bands nowadays seem to overthink things and it stops the creative flow. People enjoy our shows, have a good time and know were doing the same. That combined with a bit of lunacy and theatricality – as the video suggests – is a band having fun and loving what they do!’
 
The Entropic Biopic of a Quixotic Psychotic is an inspired debut album, can you tell me about it?
 
‘We started the album without enough material. A deliberate move. The album took ages to finish because of time and money. We also went to Amsterdam in the middle of it to do a short film which delayed its completion.
 
‘With that being said, it allowed us to record a bunch of new ideas as and when we were writing them. It kept the ideas fresh and were pretty much going on the album as they we were being written; without overthinking or analysing anything.
 
‘Some elements were written on the spot. We love that. Thats what we do. Put us in a room with a bunch of percusssion to hit and something was recorded. Thats the essence of the album. A continual, unbroken stream of thought being recorded as it happens. A dismantling of memory and consciousness.
 
‘The result is what we wanted from this record. As a band, we get dragged to the next stream of though and go with it.’
 
Kochka have just released a promo for the track “Carousel-o-Tape”, can you tell me about it?
 
‘Its an intro song that got out of hand. Intended to be a short statement of things to come, it kinda just kept going. It speaks volumes in terms of the ethos of the band and hints to what to expect. Theatricality combined with musicality and just the right amount of lunacy.
 
‘We were delighted when we joined forces with Ciaran Lyons (seaoflyons.com) the director of the video. He came to us with the idea and seemed to understand the band immediately. The video shows what to expect from us and Ciaran understood the madness and was able, somehow, to capture this on film.’
 
Kochka’s debut album The Entropic Biopic of a Quixotic Psychotic is available here – and is an excellent introduction to the band. For updates and tour news check here.
 

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In 1973, The Old Grey Whistle Test presented a special showcase of Reggae music to a rather restrained audience of twenty-somethings at the Edinburgh Festival. It was an audacious move at a time of long hair, flared trousers, Heavy Metal and Prog Rock, and though the presentation looks uncannily like a Butlin’s stage show, this is an important and historic concert, as it brought together some of the original Trojan artists who helped reggae crossover from Jamaican dance halls to UK chart success. These are The Cimarons, Winston Groovy, Dennis Alcapone, The Marvels, Nicky Thomas and The Pioneers.
After a brief introduction from the infamous Ska and Reggae performer Judge Dread, the concert opens with The Cimarons, who formed from Harlsden via Jamaica in 1967. The Cimarons were mainly a covers band, who later released versions of “Kung Fu Fighting”‘ “You Can Get It If You Really Want”, “Over the Rainbow”, “Rock Your Baby“, and a major hit cover of “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron” under the guise of The Hot Shots, with producer Clive Crawley on vocals. Here The Cimarons perform “Ain’t No Sunshine”.
Next up is Winston Groovy who gives his version of “I’m a Believer”. Groovy moved to England in the late 1960s, where he had a hit with Lee Scratch-Perry produced track “I Want to be Loved”. In the 1970s, Groovy covered Dr Hook’s “Sylvia’s Mother” and a version of “Don’t Slow Down“, which he later re-recorded with UB40.
Dennis Alcapone is on next with his hits “Cassius Clay” and “Wake Up Jamaica”. Alcapone is a legendary figure in Reggae, who released 130 singles between 1970 and 1973.
The Marvels who had a doo-wop approach to Reggae, perform “Jimmy Browne”, “One Monkey”. The Marvels had a variety of incarnations from their early hit “Rock Steady“, through sessions as backing vocalists – appearing on Top of the Pops with Dandy on “Suzanne Beware of the Devil”, to having hit covers with “Then He Kissed Me” and “He’s Got The Whole World in His Hands”.
Then comes the highlight of the seeing the late, great Nicky Thomas who fires in with his hit singles “Is It Because I’m Black”, and “Love of the Common People”. Thomas had a song called “BBC“, which was a condemnation of the Beeb’s lack of radio play for Reggae artists. Sadly, Thomas committed suicide in 1990.
The Pioneers were the first reggae band to tour Japan. Here they give their version of Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and The Temptations’ hit “Papa Was A Rolling Stone”. The Pioneers went through a variety of line-ups, musical styles and suits in their long career, and are still performing. Best known for their classic tracks “Long Shot Kick de Bucket“, which proved such a hit that the band relocated to England after their first UK tour. They went on to have hits with Jimmy Cliff’s “Let Your Yeah Be Yeah” and “Give and Take”.
The host is Judge Dread, a former “debt collector” for Trojan Records, who had a long and celebrated career as a white Ska and Reggae artist, who released a series of infamous obscene songs, starting with “Big Six”, nearly all of which charted though he never received any radio air play. Dread had more Reggae hits in the UK Charts during the 1970s than any other Reggae artist (and that includes Bob Marley), and is in the Guinness Book of Records for having the most number of banned songs – 11.

11th December 1968 was the first time John Lennon played publicy in a band without The Beatles. It was a fractious time for the Fab Four.  During the recording of the ‘White Album’ tensions flared – Lennon and Paul McCartney recorded their songs separately; George Harrison worked with Eric Clapton as guitarist on ‘My Guitar Gently Sleeps’; while Nicky Hopkins played keys on Lennon’s ‘Revolution’; and Ringo Starr had quit the band in August, then rejoined in September, just in time to form a united front for the famous ‘Hey Jude’ promo. The Beatles were changing, as their personal lives had greater influence on their individual creativity.

This was particularly true for Lennon, who was about to start one of his most prolific, creative and headline-grabbing phases.

In October, Lennon and new love, Yoko Ono were busted in a set-up raid at their London flat.

In November, the ‘White Album was released., and Lennon was officially divorced from his wife, Cynthia.  Ono and Lennon released ‘Two Virgins‘, a farting soundscape created by naivety and love.

That same month, Ono suffered a miscarriage, but not before Lennon recorded the unborn baby’s heartbeat and released this unsettling murmur on the couple’s next album ‘Unfinished Music No 2: Life With the Lions‘.

Ten days after the ‘White Album’ hit the UK No 1 spot, Lennon guested on ‘The Rolling Stones’ Rock ‘n’ Roll Circus‘, with a hastily assembled supergroup, he called ‘The Dirty Mac’, in snide reference to latest chart flavour of the month, Fleetwood Mac.

The Dirty Mac consisted of Cream’s Eric Clapton on lead guitar, The Stones’ Keith Richards on bass, Mitch Mitchell, from The Jimi Hendrix Experience on drums, and Lennon as Winston Leg-Thigh on rhythm guitar and vocals.

The Mac should have been the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band ever.  But this was just a one-off gig, where they performed a Beatles’ cover, Lennon’s ‘Yer Blues’ and gave a backing jam to Yoko Ono’s improvised warbling.

This odd mix of good and bad performance revealed some very unique talent at its height.  But, it was also tarnished with a self-indulgence that meant such supergroups, such artists, were soon to be out of touch with a younger generation who sought their lead and aural pleasures with The Velvet Underground, The Stooges, David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Roxy Music and The New York Dolls.

Lennon tried his hand at another supergroup the following year, this time with Clapton, Ono, Klaus Voorman, and Alan White, performing a Live Peace gig in Toronto.

Norma Tanega was a camp counsellor in the Catskills when she joined New Voice Records in 1966.  Her first single, ‘Walkin’ My Cat Named Dog’ charted at 22 in the Billboard 100. It was her last major chart success, and the single was sadly consigned to the list of novelty one-hit-wonders.

Though Tanega continued her Folk career, she dedicated much of her time to her long-term relationship with the legendary and brilliant singer, Dusty Springfield.  The couple had an intense relationship during the 1960s and remained life-long friends, until Springfield’s untimely death in 1999.

Tanega moved to England in the 1970s, and signed to RCA.  She eventually returned to America, where she obtained an MFA in Painting and started a career as a teacher.

Though she has performed with the World Music group Hybrid Vigor, it as an artist that Norma Tanega is best known today.

With thanks to Ian Bruce

From his notorious first appearance, with fellow Sex Pistols, on Bill Grundy’s ‘Today’ programme, John Lydon has always given good copy.

For Lydon has never hidden his intelligence, his talent or his annoyance with some of the stupidity and vanity of the media.

In these interviews ranging from an early revealing walk and talk with Janet Street-Porter in London (where we can see Lydon dressed like some Dickensian character);  through a tense Public Image Limited press conference, with Keith Levene, for PiL’s first tour of the USA; to a press launch for the 1983 film ‘Order of Death’; we see the wit of Lydon’s intelligence and the passions that fuel his anger.

In my world there are a few songs which should have won the Eurovision Song Contest without question, but sadly were never entered into that twinkly, satin, pant-suit, singing competition.  One that comes instantly to mind is ‘Mr Eurovision by that greatly under-rated genius, Neil Innes.

With ‘Mr Eurovision‘ Innes combined the very best of what Europe had to offer with a ludicrously catchy tune.  Why the UK never entered this work of unparalleled brilliance, I do not know.  Perhaps there was a hidden threat that the song could literally take over the world by invading friendly countries, bringing their nightclubs to a standstill, and leading their brainwashed populations to dance gaily up and down the high streets at all hours of the day and night.

Another song guaranteed to make you dance as incoherently as a drunk Uncle at a Christmas party, is ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol‘.

Prisencolinensinainciusol‘ should have been Italy’s Ace card in the Eurovision stakes, but it was never entered. We can only assume that a fear of earthquakes probably stopped one of the greatest Euro dance tracks ever produced bringing Western civilization to a standstill.

First released in November 1972, ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol’ was written by Adriano Celentano, and recorded by Celentrano and his wife, actress Claudia Mori.

When asked what ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol‘ meant, Celentano claimed that having recorded albums of songs on social and environmental issues that meant something, he wanted to record an album of songs that meant nothing. He added that if ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol’ meant anything it is about the “incommunicability” of modern life.

This all might be true back on planet Earth, but here on Planet Paul, dancing is one of the greatest forms of communication, and, at the moment, ‘Prisencolinensinainciusol’ says everything we want to say on the subject.

This is what it’s all about and always will be: creative self expression.

It’s what the Haul Girls do so well

And what these young troubadours called Chair do with unfettered joy.

This pair, like two cool anti-heroes from a John Waters movie, sing about the angst, pain, unhappiness and hurt that is one of the main building blocks in growing up.  They don’t flinch from sharing the personal stuff that everyone, somewhere down the line, can identify with, and that’s what makes ‘I’m Fat And Nobody Likes Me’ a work sheer youthful genius.

Moreover, what Chair, the Haul Girls and all the the other Web, WordPress, YouTube, Techno Revolutionaries are doing is as important as Rock ‘n’ Roll, Beatlemania, Punk and 101 other youth movements.  For like their esteemed predecessors these youngsters have the guts to go out and do something creative, something special that reaches out and connects with like-minded individuals.

Now we have the means of expression and distribution at our fingertips, do we really need a Simon Cowell or a Vogue to tell us what to do, when we can do it for ourselves?