Friday, October 30, 2009

Leyland Kirby - The CD trilogy - Sadly, The Future Is Not What It Was

For the last six weeks or so you have witnessed my quest, ultimately successful, to obtain the trilogy of double-vinyl 12s released by Leyland Kirby. Whatever the reason - curiosity or incredulity come to mind - a large number of people have found themselves here as a result. If vinyl is simply not your thing I can understand that, and if you were unable to partake I sympathize, but a more readily available and more easily handled alternative is now available:

It has the same content as the vinyl releases, but on three CDs instead, and the same track listing and notes too (absolutely none at all) but new artwork. It is available as follows:

LEYLAND KIRBY - Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was (Deluxe Triple CD Edition)
Label: History Always Favours The Winners
3CD // £15.99 [approx. €17.60 and US$ 26.50] plus the appropriate shipping charges.
Released: Oct 2009
Catalogue Number: HAFTW001CD

While list it, it is described as unavailable so they may as well not bother. It is however available from independent retailer Boomkat Records, Manchester, UK and they will ship internationally. The link to this item, including a review etc., is here:

I'm listening to the whole lot, rather over four hours of it, from end-to-end for the first time and I can see a misty but near-full moon out of my skylight window. Perfect for Halloween and, were there wolves in Somerset, I expect that I would be able to hear them howling in the distance as I write...

There are, actually, but Longleat is just a little bit too far away and that puts me in mind of a very sad story from earlier this week: nineteen-year-old Taylor Mitchell, a promising (and award-nominated) Canadian folk singer-songwriter, was hiking in Cape Breton National Park, Nova Scotia, when she was attacked, fatally, by two coyotes; a shy animal not known as a species aggressive towards humans.

Note added 3 November:
It is also available on mp3 from Boomkat for £8.99 (€10, US$14.75) but I don't actually know if that facility is available internationally.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What is new, what is not?

This is an interesting question right now... I'm thinking about all the new music I have heard - live, recorded and in some cases both - in 2009. That has also made me think more about the music, regardless of release date, that I have listened to most frequently in the last two months.

Much of it falls into both categories and a yet a considerable proportion does not. More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that even when it does I have never explicitly mentioned it. 'The Local', at EOTR 2009, might not be the most prepossessing tented venue in festival land but, for everything it lacks in that regard is more than made up in other ways. It is not particularly well appointed...

...and, if you are playing, you need to fix it for yourselves. It was also home to many artists that you simply don't yet know, but needed to see and hear, and this is is one of them.

Emily Barker and The Red Clay Halo, live at EOTR 2009 and...

...this is the set-list for it.

These tracks come from two albums: Photos, Fires, Fables (2007) and Despite The Snow (2009), both of which I bought after seeing this live performance, and have played countless times since. An act that employs piano accordion always stands a good chance of getting my attention and, as my luck would have it, this was just one of several that I have seen this year. Yesterday someone ended up here searching for "unusual musical instruments", a category that is in some ways in the ear of the beholder. I have seen a few played live this year, including bassoon, auto-harp, stylophone, several xylophones and also a few toy instuments too...

Related links:

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

All Hallows Eve...

The traditional British late Autumn party-night, for kids especially, was the very obviously sectarian Guy Fawkes' Night, traditionally celebrated with fireworks, on 5th November. In the last decade or two it appears to have been eclipsed to some extent by another with which it, perhaps rather surprisingly, shares much in common.
You could advance many possible reasons for this, and with some justification, so here are two:

  • Church of England and Catholic rapprochement.
  • The creeping advance of (at least recently) US customs and celebrations.
I agree that the matter of Guy Fawkes and the grievances that Catholics harboured after the 'Reformation' makes it a sectarian issue and one that, after more than three centuries, still understandably touches a raw nerve. The interesting thing is that, if by adopting Halloween instead (adopted by the Church - long pre-reformation but banned by Cromwell during the 'Commonwealth' - as All Hallows Eve in early Medieval times), the differences have been smoothed over by celebrating something that was adopted, and carefully woven in, from Celtic Christian ritual that it in turn had adopted and were tenets of earlier pagan beliefs (and it is not the only one - Whitsun and Harverst Festival being others) instead. If that gets around the perceived problem then it is just fine by me and clearly time is a great healer.
So now we, or to use as an excuse the kids, have both fireworks and pumpkins!

Pumpkins are indeed something of a revelation: we used to have to make do with attempting to cut lanterns out of swede (called turnips in the north of England and Scotland). They are smaller, less colored and less translucent than pumpkins and they are, unfortunately, also industrially hard when uncooked!

So to the music that might fit such an occasion; as well as anything from my former suggestions in (2008) and (2007) here a few recent releases...

I've recently mentioned two 12" EPs by 'Demdike Stare', the shady side of Manchester's modern electronic witchcraft and, while they might be tricky to get before Saturday, this is the album and the track list is indeed most promising...
  1. Suspicious Drone
  2. Haxan Dub
  3. Regressor
  4. All Hallows Eve
  5. Jannisary
  6. Haxan
  7. Extwistle Hall
  8. Trapped Dervish
  9. Nothing But The Night
  10. Conjoined
  11. Ghostly Hardware
I know that this is an even greater problem but, should you want to spend the whole day in what is, arguably, even more gloomy territory then James Leyland Kirkby is the one and I've alluded to this, the final part of the LP trilogy, already...

...don't imagine that only the kids will like the sweets and 'pumpkin hunt'.

There are two obvious trails through the darkness - the nu-acoustic/folk path or the ambient/ electronic path - and just take your choice but strange to relate they are not so different as you might expect. Less scary is the folk-orientated one and anything by 'The Smoke Fairies' would not go amiss.
Bring on the witches, fairies and the other forces of darkness and light any time... and how about a vampire or two?

If so then also add any 'Twilight' soundtrack that you can lay your fangs on and the latest, 'New Moon', features 'Death Cab For Cutie' and Ben Gibbard's haunting lyrics as well as many other highlights so what more can I say?


Monday, October 26, 2009

Progress:Reform (revisited)...

This is for whoever just asked about the lyrics for 'Progress:Reform'. I was thinking about this today, if only by proxy. Is Royal Mail about to self destruct in a similar way?
It is quite possible and I have mentioned my concern before - look at the effect the miners' strike of 1983-4 had. Yes, it was an industry facing major issues of falling demand, over-staffing and tragically adversarial industrial relations but that is relevant. Royal Mail, I fear, is now staring into the same abyss and the result could be as damaging as that which harks back to the Railway industry of 1963, which is where this track (as yet incomplete in lyric as I have to do them line-by-line) comes from...

The Beeching Report

Is this the price we pay for progress?
Taking one step forwards
For every six we take back.
Does your dirty oil-stained money
Make you happy?

Do you just want to be remembered?
To book your place in history?
[You will be!] {whispered choir}
Reform, reform!

You are taking apart what we made
With our hands and and our hearts
Our hands and our hearts
Are not just tools to ply your trade.

They are ours to live our lives
And you are taking them away.
Feel free to wrap you hands around our necks
And I'll feel free to do the same.

That's not all of it and probably due to its length they didn't play it at Latitude 2009, more is the pity, but at least this is a start on the lyric. It is a remarkable piece of writing from a remarkable band.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Memories Live Longer Than Dreams --- Don't Look Down

It is something of a change, to say the least, to go to a gig with a group of friends. That was Bellowhead at the Cheese & Grain in Frome yesterday evening and what a show it was. I can quite truthfully say that I haven't seen one obviously better this year, and not for want of trying either, but personal preference might play a part. I have however seen a few that run it close, which only serves to show just how fortunate I have been, and it was on my doorstep! It was so good to have company that I never even thought to take any pictures, let alone take the measures needed to stand a chance of getting anything worthwhile, and I don't regret it for a moment.

The title of the post is however double-edged - it is also that of the final installment of the Leyland Kirby double-vinyl trilogy - and yes, I have! Now that is dealt with I think it time for another more sensible, or simply more varied, selection of new music I want.

That however is not a prospect that is going to test me any less...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Matty Groves, lyric, Alela Diane

To see the latest update on this thread follow the link below:

Thank you to whosoever searched today for the lyric to 'Matty Groves', as performed by Alela Diane. A definitive answer is difficult, as I heard it live at 'End Of The Road 2009' and it is not, as far as I know, an Alela Diane album track but it was in so far as I could tell from memory quite faithful to the 'In Real Time - 1987' Fairport Convention' rendition and this is the lyric for that:

Matty Groves
A holiday, a holiday, and the first one of the year
Lord Donald's wife came into the church, the gospel for to hear
And when the meeting it was done, she cast her eyes about
And there she saw little Matty Groves, walking in the crowd
"Come home with me, little Matty Groves, come home with me tonight
Come home with me, little Matty Groves, and sleep with me till light"
"Oh, I can't come home, I won't come home and sleep with you tonight
By the rings on your fingers I can tell you are my master's wife"
"But if I am Lord Donald's wife, Lord Donald's not at home
He is out in the far cornfields bringing the yearlings home"

And a servant who was standing by and hearing what was said
He swore Lord Donald he would know before the sun would set
And in his hurry to carry the news, he bent his breast and ran
And when he came to the broad millstream, he took off his shoes and he swam

Little Matty Groves, he lay down and took a little sleep
When he awoke, Lord Donald was standing at his feet
Saying "How do you like my feather bed and how do you like my sheets
How do you like my lady who lies in your arms asleep?"
"Oh, well I like your feather bed and well I like your sheets
But better I like your lady gay who lies in my arms asleep"
"Well, get up, get up," Lord Donald cried, "get up as quick as you can
It'll never be said in fair England that I slew a naked man"
"Oh, I can't get up, I won't get up, I can't get up for my life
For you have two long beaten swords and I not a pocket knife"
"Well it's true I have two beaten swords and they cost me deep in the purse
But you will have the better of them and I will have the worse
And you will strike the very first blow and strike it like a man
I will strike the very next blow and I'll kill you if I can"

So Matty struck the very first blow and he hurt Lord Donald sore
Lord Donald struck the very next blow and Matty struck no more
And then Lord Donald took his wife and he sat her on his knee
Saying "Who do you like the best of us, Matty Groves or me?"
And then up spoke his own dear wife, never heard to speak so free
"I'd rather a kiss from dead Matty's lips than you or your finery"

Lord Donald he jumped up and loudly he did bawl
He struck his wife right through the heart and pinned her against the wall
"A grave, a grave," Lord Donald cried, "to put these lovers in
But bury my lady at the top for she was of noble kin."

If there are subtle differences then and with luck this will at least help you with the greater part of the remainder. It is a traditional song so bear in mind that there are probably many versions of both the lyric and its accompaniment in existence and, in particular, I think Joan Baez may have recorded one that is notably different.

Added October 15, 2009:
Well here's something interesting that reinforces the point about alternate versions, even ones by the same artist.
The lyric above may actually be that to an idealized or a recorded version. I've just listened to 'Matty Groves' from
'In Real Time - 1987' Fairport Convention' very carefully indeed and they are are some subtle differences:
Some are totally trivial and are common in any canon but one, which struck me as being rather more significant, is that in the live version the servant who relays the tale of adultery is now female (consistently so, therefore I don't think I have misheard it) and the wronged party is Lord Arnold (not Lord Donald). It answers another issue that struck me as slightly strange yesterday evening:
Why would yearlings (sheep, cattle or any other kind) be in cornfields? It seemed rather strange agricultural practise to me, but then what do I know? Listen carefully and it is this:

He is out in the far country bringing the yearlings home.

That makes much more sense and 'the far country' is a well known, if somewhat archaic, term for the distant parts on one's estates, if one were lucky enough to have so much as the ground beneath one's feet to call ones own! The Lord Donald/Lord Arnold dichotomy may be merely a regional variation, each using the name of a local dignitary or a play on it, as much traditional music was carefully veiled sedition in any case.

Much later, still to this day indeed, there are regional variations even though the locations may not be far apart at all. The song 'Stanley Market' (Co. Durham), dating from the 19th century I suspect, is 'Bedlington Market' when just across the Tyne in Northumberland. It is recognizably the same song but, as above, the lyrics vary somewhat.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

New Music 2009 - Major labels and foreign language music.

Don't say that I didn't warn you because I did so yesterday. Why am I suddenly being positive about some major label releases? That is easy to answer and, really quite selfishly, because they are releasing music that I want to listen to and I have no problem with that whether it is self-released or done under the auspices of a major label.

I have no problem with foreign-language music either and have posted about this before. I've got most of the released recorded output of both and so, on that basis, I don't reckon I'm taking much of a risk here!

Strange to relate that Shakira is here, but with the album that is mostly in English although her native language is Spanish (and three albums with major releases in that language alone), but the all-Spanish album is this...

She is Canadian, of Portuguese origin, but has chosen to release her fourth album entirely in Spanish and the reviews that I have read, of both these albums, are glowing. If you have a open mind about new music, and given the kind of music I like, you can probably see why they are both on my wish list.

Not that I have any details, yet alone album art, but another to watch out for, and another Canadian singer/songwriter on a mission to surprise, is the album 'Joy' by Fefe Dobson (21 Records) and failing that try this instead.

For the background to this, her third album, which I said I would buy even if I had heard nothing from it, see this link:

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was

I'm back from a break in posting, but not listening, with more than a few things to share. It is a while now since I've added a "New Music I Want..." post.

In another two months it will be the time for that "Best of..." consideration again but what immediately strikes me is that while most items I want are recent they are very varied. This is to the extent that they need to be divided in to several posts, or at least that is my current assessment and one of them, shock horror, is going to be about new releases by major label artists. Not just that, this is about releases that I actually want!

This, however, is at the other end of the scale altogether...

Sadly, The Future Is No Longer What It Was - #2 in a trilogy of vinyl LPs by Leyland Kirkby.

Like the last (and the next) it is only available on 2 x 12" vinyl each limited to 450 copies worldwide. Cheerful it is not but cheer up: once the vinyl is all done there will be a 3-CD release incorporating all six LPs so the future isn't quite so bad after all and, furthermore, it is curiously uplifting listening.