Wednesday, 31 October 2012

1960 Wes Montgomery - The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery

Info: John Lesley 'Wes' Montgomery was born in March, 1923 in Indianapolis, Indiana, into a family of musicians, his brothers Monk and Buddy both played jazz and recorded a number of albums as The Montgomery Brothers. Although he played a four-string tenor guitar at the age of twelve, it wasn't until his late 20's that he began playing a six string, learning from radio recordings of his idol, guitar player, Charlie Christian. As he developed he became one of the great modern jazz guitarists, and many outside the genre cited him as a huge influence on them, such as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Jimi Hendrix and Joe Satriani. Amongst his contemporaries he was also held in equally high esteem, and played and recorded with Cannonball Adderley and Jimmy Smith, and was also asked by Thelonius Monk to join his band after a jamming session, which he forewent to continue with the Montgomery Band. Purists favour his early works up to the mid 1960's, following which his sound became for popular and commercially very successfully as he reached a wider audience between 1965-1968. Tragically, on 15th June, 1968, he awoke one morning and told his wife that he felt quite ill, before collapsing and dying of a heart attack in his hometown of Indianapolis, aged just 45. The above album, The Incredible Jazz Guitar of Wes Montgomery, is #5 for 1960 on, and my preferred tracks would be opener 'Airegin' and the above video track, 'Four on Six'.

Track Listing:

1. Airegin
2. D-Natural Blues
3. Polka Dots & Moonbeams
4. Four on Six
5. West Coast Blues
6. In Your Own Sweet Way
7. Mr. Walker
8. Gone With The Wind 

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Jake Bugg - Jake Bugg (2012)

Bugg on BBC Radio Nottingham, The Beat performing 3 songs (which amazingly didn't make his debut album)

Later With Jools Holland, 'Country Song', May, 2012

Info: I first came across Jake Bugg only last week in an interview in The Times admittedly with a good deal of cynicism as is my wont. Even though the interviewer wasn't spewing the usual fervent praise and whipping up hysteria over 'the next big thing' ageism got the better of me and I found it hard not to see 18 year old Bugg as the latest record label boss' wet dream. My guard had come down slightly by the end of the interview as he came across as quite down to earth and likeable, when talking about his friends he shakes his head and says; "They're out every Friday and Saturday night (clubbing) and it's always the same, I'd rather be sat at home, listening to Marvin with a couple of cans." From the Clifton Estate in Nottingham, where he still lives with his parents, he began playing in pubs when he was 15, and shortly afterwards, in 2010, uploaded some of his songs onto the BBC website, which landed him a gig at Glastonbury, the first time he'd even been to a festival. More recently he opened for The Stone Roses at a secret gig in London, is currently supporting Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds on their American tour, and can count Damon Albarn among his admirers, at least Noel and Damon agree on something, that at only 18, Bugg has already shown considerable talent for his age. He has said he is largely disinterested in modern music and his favourite artists are Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Don McClean, & Donovan. The influence of the folk singers is certainly very evident in a lot of his songs, but he does also slide into rock music on songs such as current single Taste It and Lightning Bolt, which mixes both genres nicely. While much of his lyrics are very innocent and some rhyming quite simplistic, it's also in some ways refreshing, it's nice to be able to enjoy an album without dissecting every line and lyric and appreciate it for what it is, a very young man's solid debut album. I expect a very bright future for Jake Bugg, but also hope he manages to develop his song-writing as independently as possible and doesn't end up like so many promising young artists before, releasing bland records after a talented first release. Finally, I thought I'd add one more video, it's for the song Broken, to be honest I found it hard to narrow down the videos because there are some excellent live performances, anyway, hope you enjoy.


Track listing:

1. Lightning Bolt**
2. Two Fingers
3. Taste It**
4. Seen It All
5. Simple As This
6. Country Song**
7. Broken
8. Trouble Town**
9. Ballad of Mr.Jones
10. Slide
11. Someone Told Me
12. Note to Self
13. Someplace
14. Fire

** Current Singles

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Excision (2012)


Excision trailer

Genre: Drama, Horror
Starring: AnnaLynne McCord, Traci Lords, Ariel Winter, Malcolm McDowell
Director: Richard Bates Jr.
IMDB Rating: 6.1/10
My Rating: 6.7/10
Runtime: 1hr 33mins

Synopsis: Described as 'a disturbed and delusional high school student with aspirations of a career in medicine goes to extremes to earn the approval of her controlling mother' it sounded like a fairly standard premise and a story we've seen many times before in films. However, Excision is possibly one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen, making A Clockwork Orange (nod to Mr.McDowell) seem like Ice Age 2. The film instantly opens with a very grotesque scene of the brilliant AnnaLynne McCord who plays main character Pauline in a dream sequence in which see sits opposite a double of herself who is profusely vomiting blood, set in a bizarrely sanitised and bright, tiled room. The film dips in and out of these dreams, each equally disturbing but visually powerful nonetheless. 

There is plenty of dark humour and the dysfunction of the family worsens as the film proceeds, although Pauline does maintain a good relationship with her younger sister, Grace, throughout. As Pauline's behaviour becomes more erratic her conservative, straight-laced mother, also played excellently by Traci Lords, goes to greater, and more humiliating measures to reign her daughter in, but to no avail, resulting in the harrowing conclusion of the film. Excision is a must see for fans of films with psychotic main characters (I don't know what that says about them!), but it is definitely not for the squeamish or those easily shocked. Great performances from the main characters and intriguing visuals make it worth the watch for everyone else.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

1959 Champion Jack Dupree - Blues From The Gutter

Info: From my own viewpoint I can see that the Blues only really became mainstream in the late 1950's, and the album, Blues From The Gutter, is the perfect introduction, slow, moody and amazing piano playing. There is no confirmation of William Thomas Dupree's true date of birth, 1908, 1909 or 1910, however, he passed away on 21st January 1992 in Niedersachsen, Germany, interestingly, he asks at the beginning of the above video (1971) 'Where will I be in 1999!?'. Dupree came from an intriguing background, his father was from the Belgian Congo, and his mother was part Native American, at the age of two, he was sent to the New Orleans Home for Colored Waifs, an orphanage, which was also the alma mater of Louis Armstrong. During his time in the home, he learned the piano, from his mentor Tuts Washington, who taught him how to play Junker's Blues (above video). His career was put on hold when he joined the U.S. Navy as a cook during the Second World War, he would go on to spend two years as a prisoner of war in Japanese camps. In the 1960's he migrated to Europe, where he spent time in Switzerland, Denmark, England, Sweden and Germany (where he eventually died of cancer).  My favourites on this album are tracks 1-4, but personally I love "TB Blues", track 2, and "Bad Blood", track 7, and "Goin' Down Slow" for blues guitar heaven, it really is an album that can be listened from start to finish as one.

Track Listing:

1. Strollin'
2. T.B. Blues
3. Can't Kick The Habit
4. Evil Woman
5. Nasty Boogie
6. Junker's Blues
7. Bad Blood
8. Goin' Down Slow
9. Frankie and Johnny
10. Stack-O-Lee

This review is my final of the 1950's, and in some way I'm relieved due to my ignorance of the decade, but I would like to add some albums from the 1950's that I think are very good and necessary listening;

1) Clifford Brown & Max Roach - Clifford Brown & Max Roach (1954)
2) Kenny Dorham - Afro-Cuban (1955) *
3) Louis Prima - The Wildest! (1956)
4) Thelonius Monk - Brilliant Corners (1957)
5) Billie Holiday - Lady In Satin (1958)
6) Marty Robbins - Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs (1959) *
7) Miles Davis - Kind of Blue (1959)
8) Art Blakey - Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers (1959)
9) The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Time Out (1959) *
10) Chet Baker - Chet (1959)

* best of the rest

1958 Cannonball Adderley - Somethin' Else

Info: Julian Edwin "Cannonball" Adderley was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1928, he was a jazz alto saxophonist of the hard bop era of jazz in the late 50's and early 60's, and would indeed become a major influence on famous jazz players such as those mentioned on the above album cover, mainly Miles Davis (who drew on Adderley's style for his 1970 album, Bitches Brew) and Art Blakey. Adderley moved from Florida to New York in the mid-50's, with his performance name, Cannonball, originating from his high-school nickname of cannibal, as a result of his ability to eat large amounts of food in one sitting, purely for spectacle. Adderley and his brother Nat, who composed many of his songs, also both worked with Ray Charles in the 1940's when he was in Tallahassee, Florida, and in 1957 he joined the Miles Davis Sextet, 3 months before John Coltrane's return, and played on arguably Davis' most famous album, Kind of Blue. My own introduction to Cannonball Adderley came from the 1966 album, Mercy, Mercy, Mercy (Live At The Club), however, the above album is probably his finest solo recording, rated #2 on RYM for 1958. Key tracks for me are the first track, "Autumn Leaves", probably the best on the album, but followed closely by "Dancing In The Dark" (which is not a Bruce Springsteen cover). As an absolute jazz novice, and admittedly having had very little interest in the genre up until about 5 years ago, I would place this album as my favourite jazz album, I hope you get a chance to check it out.

Track Listing:

1. Autumn Leaves
2. Love For Sale
3. Somethin' Else
4. One for Daddy-O
5. Dancing In The Dark

Thursday, 11 October 2012

1957 Sonny Rollins - Saxophone Colossus

Info: Born Theodore Walter Rollins in New York, September 1930, Rollins began playing piano aged 9, but gave it up before picking up the saxophone in high school, after which he made his first recordings with the likes of Bud Powell, in 1948, which would eventually lead to him playing with Art Blakey and Miles Davis in the early 1950's. Saxophone Colossus was released in 1957 and is currently ranked as the No.1 album for the year on and also has 5 stars on . Recorded during his peak period, with pianist Tommy Flanagan, bassist Doug Watkins and the legendary jazz drummer, Max Roach (of Max Roach and Clifford Brown fame, This album is widely considered Rollins' finest work, with the final track "Blue 7" capturing his individualism, other key tracks include "Moriat" and "St. Thomas" (above). 

Track Listing:

1. St.Thomas
2. You Don't Know What Love Is
3. Strode Rode
4. Moritat
5. Blue 7

1956 Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley

Elvis, 1968 performance

Info: Although far from Elvis' best album, it's a pretty solid debut. The album consists of 7 tracks recorded in early 1956, with the remainder coming from the scrapheap of his Sun Records songs from 1954, leading to a slightly lopsided album at times. Seen as the album that sparked mass interest in rock n' roll, following in the footsteps of the likes of Chuck Berry, teenagers were mesmerised by Elvis and bought the record in droves, remarkably, because at the time they were more inclined to buy 45's than LP's. Elvis Presley went on to become the first No.1 rock album in the US charts and made record company RCA millions. Key tracks include opener, "Blue Suede Shoes", "I'm Counting On You", the Ray Charles cover "I Got A Woman" and "Blue Moon", not to mention "Trying To Get You" (above). A point of interest also comes from the album cover, an iconic photo taken in Tampa, Florida in 1955 by William V. Robertson, which would be later copied by none other than The Clash for 1979's London Calling

Track Listing:

1. Blue Suede Shoes
2, I'm Counting On You
3. I Got A Woman
4. One-Sided Love Affair
5. I Love You Because
6. Just Because
7. Tutti Frutti
8. Trying To Get You
9. I'm Gonna Sit You Right Down (And Cry Over You)
10. I'll Never Let You Go (Little Darlin')
11. Blue Moon
12. Money Honey

Friday, 5 October 2012

1955 Julie London - Julie Is Her Name

Info: Real name Gayle Peck, she was born in Santa Rosa, California in 1926 and died in October, 2000 in Encino, in the same State. London was originally an actress (appearing in more than 20 films) but was convinced to pursue a singing career by her second husband, composer Bobby Troup. Julie Is Her Name was released in 1955, reaching No.2 in the charts, as her debut and is currently #7 on for this year. The most well known of the tracks off the album is "Cry Me A River", where London is accompanied by gentle guitar and a bassist, and the unique sound of her singing was achieved mainly by her standing very close to the microphone when recording. The song reached No.9 in the US charts in December, 1955 and has appeared in scenes of films such as The Girl Can't Help It, starring Tom Ewell and Jayne Mansfield, in which an alcholic press-agent is paid by a gangster to make his girlfriend a famous singer, in one scene where the main character hits rock bottom he plays "Cry Me A River", and suddenly Julie London appears singing the song using a faded visual technique. The song has more recently been in 2005's V for Vendetta when Natalie Portman arrives in V's underground dwelling (where I first heard the song). Other key tracks are opener "Say It Isn't So", "I Should Care" and "Easy Street". I managed to get the album on vinyl recently and it's a very enjoyable and easy-listening recording, it was also released at the very edge of the rock n' roll explosion, and in some ways marks the end of one era and the beginning of another.

Track Listing: 

A1   Say It Isn't So    
A2   It Never Entered My Mind                         
A3   Easy Street                       
A4   S' Wonderful                    
A5   No Moon at All                
A6   Laura                   
A7   Gone with the Wind                     
B1   Cry Me a River                 
B2   I Should Care                   
B3   I'm in the Mood for Love                            
B4   I'm Glad There Is You                   
B5   Can't Help Lovin' That Man         
B6   I Love You