Don't get the idea from the title that I'm a Dire Straits fan - especially since the song I plagiarized features the much-loathed Sting, and that's the only mention of him you'll get on these pages - but I've been overwhelmed lately by the amount of great, free music available on the web. As if my backlog of review CDs wasn't already big enough, here are some sites I've been downloading like crazy from lately:
nyctaper specializes in high quality live recordings of well and lesser known indie bands that play the NYC circuit; this guy must spend most of his life at shows ! Highlights for me were the complete set of recent Feelies reunion shows. Make sure you support the artists by going to see them or buying their stuff if you download from this site.
Wolfgang's Vault is a staggering archive of shows from longer ago, although they also have a good stack of newer stuff. This is the place I go for a fix of 70s Who, Cheap Trick or Graham Parker.
Finally, the big daddy of them all for live shows if you don't mind using BitTorrent - dimeadozen.org has pretty much any live show you could possibly want. My current favourite from here is Luna's last ever show from 2002; man, I wish those guys were still together. Don't be put off by the registration process at dimeadozen; they'll probably be full up when you first try, but keep going and you should get in after an hour or two.
Let me know if you have other free sites worth passing on !
Being British born and of a certain age, my brother Phil and I are both big Paul Weller fans. We recently came up with our top 10 solo Weller tracks - perhaps unsurprisingly, there was hardly any overlap. Here are the lists in all their glory.
10. 5th Season (Wild Wood) 9. Blink And You'll Miss It (As Is Now) 8. Whirlpool's End (Stanley Road) 7. Ohio (B Sides Fly on the Wall) 6. Can You Heal Us (Holy Man) (Wild Wood) 5. Stanley Road (Stanley Road) 4. Kosmos (At the BBC version) 3. Going Places (Illumination) 2. All I Wanna Do (22 Dreams) 1. Hung Up (At the BBC version)
1. Hung Up (any version) 2. Sunflower (Live Wood) 3. Come On / Let's Go (As Is Now) 4. Out of the Sinking (Stanley Road) 5. Bull Rush (Live Wood) 6. Kosmos (Live at the BBC) 7. Above the Clouds (Paul Weller) 8. Broken Stones (Live Wood) 9. There's No Drinking After You're Dead (Days of Speed) 10. Broken Stones (Stanley Road)
Looks like there'll be a new album from The Modfather next year, and hopefully a tour too.
I succumbed to temptation a couple of weeks back and got the stereo version of the CD box set of all the remastered Beatles albums. I'd been buying most of my music by download lately, so it was great to have a physical thing for a change. All the albums come in replica sleeves, with a nice booklet containing lots of info and photos; they've also included the extra that came with the old albums, like the lyric sheet for the White Album. Very nice packaging job !
I haven't had time to do much listening yet, but I can definitely hear an improvment over the old CDs, even on my computer speakers. Everything is much clearer and more separated; in general it's almost as if a band from today was playing the songs all over again in a state of the art studio.
More on the details when I've had some time to listen to everything; in the meantime, see if you want to put the new digital apple on your Christmas list !
I've been a fan of Australia's The Church for so long that it's hard to remember a period of my life that didn't have them as part of its soundtrack. It was therefore an honour and a pleasure to catch up with lead singer / bassist Steve Kilbey via email during the band's recent US tour.
GB: I caught the show in San Francisco and thought it was the best show of yours I've seen; the song selection and general energy level (starting with the kick-butt version of "Tantalized") were fantastic. How has the rest of the tour been going ?
SK: its been going good we do have a lot more energy these days people seem to enjoy that
GB: Do you have any favourite places in North America – and / or the world – that you were particularly happy to come back to on this tour ?
SK: i'm sad we didnt get to atlanta which is a great city for us but san fran n seattle n chicago were pretty good
GB: How do you feel about touring these days, after going around the world with the band for nearly 30 years ?
SK: its such a complicated question i'd get RSI trying to answer it but it sure beats working yeah i like playing but i hate waiting around for the other guys all the time youre only as quick as the slowest bloke
GB: You've been really prolific lately, with the fine solo album Painkiller and the Martin Kennedy collaboration as well as the new Church record. Are you always that prolific but just don't necessarily release everything you do, or have you been branching into production or visual art or other things when you're not making music ?
SK: i do a lotta stuff i paint pictures i collaborate on music a bit of acting i've got a load of kids i do yoga n i swim in the sea what was the question again??
GB: I like the new album Untitled #23 a lot. It has a reflective mood that reminds me a lot of After Everything Now This, one of my very favourite Church albums. I've read that the band writes and chooses the songs together these days, so was there a conscious decision to make the album come out that way ?
SK: everything we do is random n accidental we never have any idea what we're doing and we dont always understand what we've done when we've finished i didnt realise it was so good a record till i read some reviews believe it or not sometimes i need the critics to tell me what we've done
GB: A lot of writers have described your singing as “cool” or “detached”, but I really like the emotion you put into some of the vocals on this album, like "Space Saviour" or "Sunken Sun". Again, was that a conscious decision to make the singing more raw ?
SK: yes that was a conscious decision ive taken cool n detached to their extreme so now i'm experimenting with more "emotion"
GB: Most Church albums have a song or two from guitarists Marty Willson-Piper and Peter Koppes, but neither (as far as I can tell) gets a lead vocal on Untitled. Why was that ?
they did a song each but band decided that their songs were too discontinuous ok then...
(GB note: Marty's and Peter's songs came out on the “Pangaea” EP released along with the new album, and are both well worth a listen).
The Coffee Hounds EP that also came out this year has a fantastic cover of the Kate Bush song "Hounds of Love", following on the tradition of great Church cover versions that the band really makes their own. How did that come about ?
i just thought we could do a good version of that one it came out well didnt it
Graham Lee, of the much-missed Triffids and Black Eyed Susans, makes an appearance on Painkiller and also on Marty's new solo album Nightjar. What's the story behind your association with Graham, and any plans to work with him again ?
the triffids have had a big influence on me ive known graham awhile he knew of my enthusiasm to sing the triffids songs hes the only guy i know who can play steel guitar
Over the years I've heard you come up with some pretty funny comments between songs. Any plans to go into stand up comedy ?