Saturday, December 31, 2005

a year at the rally...

So there we were in the pub, having the annual Johnny Domino Christmas drink, when we decided that we should each try to come up with some sort of end-of-year list for The Rally. Being drunken miserable old gits, we then spent a good while complaining about the state of modern music and bemoaning the fact that we'd never be able to come up with a list of great albums/tracks that came out this year. However, before the night had ended we agreed to try to list the 5 best things we'd heard in 2005. These could have been released in any year; they just had to have been things that we'd heard for the first time in 2005.

Most of my "contemporary" favourites have either been featured on here (see The Bad Plus, Langhorne Slim, Silver Jews) or everywhere else in BlogLand (Sufjan Stevens, LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire - "Funeral" is pretty much the only album that came out in the UK this year that you can say is a stone-cold classic).

The Bad Plus - Rhinoceros Is My Profession
Langhorne Slim - And If It's True
Silver Jews - Animal Shapes

SteveDomino's hits from the vaults, 2005, would have to include:

Miles Davis - A Tribute To Jack Johnson - mind-blowing jazz-rock-funk-fusion work-out from 1971. Over an hours worth of great music over 2 tracks - not very bloggable!
Harmonia - Musik Von Harmonia - 1974 motorik repeato-rock featuring members of Neu! and Cluster. Great stuff but I think Jim is planning a Harmonia post so I shan't tread on his toes.

Outside of those, the album I've played the most is without a doubt Martha Wainwright's debut album, but she went and ruined it by releasing an expanded edition. Is it me or is this fashion for repackaging current albums with a couple of bonus tracks one of the true curses of modern music?

Next in rotation is probably The Coral's "The Invisible Invasion". I don't understand why they seem to have fallen so out of favour, especially when they've released what I think is their best album yet. A couple of years back the press in the UK was all over them but this came out in the summer to barely a whimper. They're still doing the Pink-Floyd-meets-Freddie-&-The-Dreamers thing but they've obviously been listening to A LOT of Can. Give 'em a listen, 'cos it's a great album.

The Coral - She Sings The Mourning

The Coral - So Long Ago

However a late contender swept it's way to my album of the year spot, They Might Be Giants' "Venue Songs" set. When They Might Be Giants toured last year they set out to write a track for every town and venue that they went to. (Maybe Sufjan Stevens should've done that, 'cos I can't see him getting through all of the US states at his current rate of work...). A lot of the songs sound like other artists - notably The Who (Leeds), Frank Zappa (Dallas) and The Cars (Vancouver).

They Might Be Giants - Vancouver
They Might Be Giants - New Orleans
They Might Be Giants - Minneapolis

"Venue Songs" comes as a 2-disc CD and DVD set if you buy it from They Might Be Giants directly. They're the ultimate love-em-or-hate-em band; I just think they're really clever and fun. There are also some great non-Venue Songs on the CD, most of which have been available for free download from

They Might Be Giants - Renew My Subscription

Visit - and buy "Venue Songs"
Visit - The Coral
Buy - "The Invisible Invasion" by The Coral

Here is Marc-o's list, as he sent it to me:

- "Oceans Apart" by The Go- Betweens
- "Love Kraft" by Super Furry Animals
- Best Re-issue - "The Glasgow School" by Orange Juice
- Re-discovered Gem - "Swoon" by Prefab Sprout
- Best Download surprise - "A Salty Dog" by Procol Harum*

(* which he got from Spoilt Victorian Child)

Oxbow's personal musical highlights of 2005:

1. Michael Hurley - 'I Paint a Design' (posted on Last night an MP3 Saved My Wife in October- no longer up there I'm afraid, but I am now discovering this artist's albums, so thanks!)
2. Jean Sibelius - 'The Swan of Tuonela' (this has truly been the year of Radio Three for me! Not sure how I feel about what this says about me but it's the truth... )
3. Charles Mingus - 'Better Git It In Your Soul' (magnificent jazz off an old mix tape made by Steve)
4. The Kaiser Chiefs - 'I Predict a Riot'
5. The Soundtrack of our Lives - 'Origin Vol 1' (rock album, will do a post about it soon.)

Last but by no means least, this is Jim's list:

Coil - The Ape of Naples - the last ever studio album - very nice, very accessible, the quintessential Coil album
Kate Bush - Aerial - never mind all the crap about, "oooh, didn't it take ages?", this is just a really good album that should be on every discerning coffee table
The Yello remasters esp. "Stella" and "Solid Pleasure" - bonkers Euro geniuses
Super Furry Animals - Love Kraft - a double Domino vote!
This year I've been listening to a lot of Frank Zappa - same as last year, really...

Thanks again for listening this year - see you in 2006!

Friday, December 23, 2005

daisy christmas

It's taken me ages to come up with a decent Christmas post, until I realised that I bloody love Christmas. So here's a rump-shakin', head-noddin', EGG-NOGGIN' block party anthem. Turn it up loud!

De La Soul - Simply

OK. I know the lyrics make it clear that this is a summer party anthem, but the whole thing is based on "Wonderful Christmas Time" by Wings! Plus I seem to remember the album came out just before Christmas 2001, so it stays.

However, this next track is a Christmas tune of an altogether darker hue.

De La Soul - Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa

De La Soul really blew my mind when I first heard them - being a wet white boy from the East Midlands, I can honestly say I'd never heard anything like "3 Feet High & Rising" and I know I'm not alone in that.

De La continue to churn out the good stuff - to, seemingly, mass indifference! "Mille.." is from the all-too-often-overlooked follow-up to "3 Feet..", "De La Soul Is Dead" - a great album and a brave attempt to move away from the day-glo sound of it's predecessor. "Simply" is from 2001's "Bionix", the second in their projected "Art Official Intelligence" trilogy (the third one got canned when they got canned by Tommy Boy). But all of their albums right up to last year's "The Grind Date" are well worth checking out - something to spend that record token on!

Have a great Christmas and cheers for stopping by The Rally. We'll do the obligatory "best of the year" post soon!

Buy De La Soul Is Dead
Buy Art Official Intelligence 2: Bionix
Visit De La Soul: Wikipedia entry
Visit De La Soul at

Monday, December 19, 2005

run for home

Lindisfarne-Meet Me On The Corner

Music has an uncanny knack of throwing you emotional sucker punches. As I mixed it with the other Christmas shoppers last Wednesday, Lindisfarne’s- ‘Meet me on the Corner’ came on my iPOD. Instantly I’m 6 years old again, I’m with my Nana and Auntie Elsie shopping on Northumberland Street in Newcastle gazing into Fenwick’s festive window display, delirious with the prospect of going up to the Toy department. As a child you think that your Grandparents will be around forever. This song wraps a warm blanket of sentimental nostalgia around me. The harmonica and acoustic guitar sound reassuringly familiar and the chorus of rough harmonies and chugging piano invite you to join in. This takes me back and it takes me home.

Buy The Best of Lindisfarne here

You should visit this

Friday, December 16, 2005

Kung Fu Santa With A Christmas Punchbag

The good people at Artists Against Success have just released a FREE limited edition Christmas CD, Kung Fu Santa With A Christmas Punchbag. The CD features the AAS roster doing one Christmas song and one non-festive number, all exclusive to this CD.

Johnny Domino - I Saw Three Ships

To get the CD, just email Steve Dresden at AAS and he'll bung you one in the post - easy-peasy! (But you'd best do it quick before they're all gone!)

Frankie Machine - Shilton's Fingertips

Other artists on the CD, which comes in a fantastic Christmas-card-style CD wallet, are MJ Hibbett & The Validators, Dr Coca Cola McDonalds, Plans & Apologies, Frankie Machine and Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken.

Frightened Prisoners Of The Kraken - June In December

The picture above was taken in Matlock Bath in MARCH of this year - welcome to Derbyshire!

email Steve Dresden at AAS to get a copy!
Visit Artists Against Success

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

born on the 13th

Happy Birthday, Oxbow!

Smokey Hogg - Born On The 13th (1952)

Despite his date of birth, my brother is a lucky so-and-so. Unlike poor old Smokey in this song. When he has soup for dinner, he can't even find a spoon - "nothin' but a fork!".

"Born On The 13th" and the other tracks in this post all come from a criminally cheap compilation CD I picked up a few years ago and have treasured ever since. There seemed to be loads of them at the time, 74 minute label showcases that you could pick up for 2-3 quid - the William Bell track I posted a while back came from a Stax one, and these tracks come from a Specialty records compilation.

Specialty was the label run by Art Rupee (born Arthur Goldberg in 1917). In his youth, Art listened to music sung at a local black Baptist church and fell in love with the music's rich sense of tradition. The Specialty catalogue features classsic rock'n'roll, rural blues, gospel, rhythm & blues from artists like Little Richard and The Soul Stirrers (who featured a young Sam Cooke). And this intensley terrifying and claustrophobic John Lee Hooker song!

John Lee Hooker - Black Cat Blues (1949)

Listen to the sax solo on this Percy Mayfield track - absolutely filthy!

Percy Mayfield - Please Believe Me (1957)

I used to listen to this album a lot when I was at university. I did lots of tapes that were labelled 'Classic Pop' with various tracks from my dad's old singles, old rock'n'roll, soul, doo-wop, whatever. It used to clear a lot of the crap out of my ears.

The Hollywood Flames - Tabarin (1951)

More often than not, these 'Classic Pop' tapes would wind up in our mate Richard's car - he was always ferrying us about to pretty much anywhere we needed to go. My main memories associated with The Hollywood Flames track is of singing along with Alb in the back of the car, trying to do the parts (failing) and trying to figure out what the hell a 'Tabarin' was.

A bit of Googling came up with this random thread about a nightclub called 'Bal Tabarin' based in San Francisco in the 1930s-40s. Fancy that!

Visit - Specialty Records page
Buy - The Specialty Story 5 CD Box Set (make a nice Xmas pressie for someone...)
Buy - It's Spelt Specialty: A Sampler Of Specialty Specials

Sunday, December 11, 2005

a legal matter

By rights Mark Burgess and The Chameleons should be consulting their lawyers. Their sound has been ripped off wholesale by Interpol and Editors and passed off as cutting edge alternative guitar rock. It's all there, the delayed guitar riffs, the anguished delivery, the sixth form poetry and the sucked cheek posturing. The Chameleons got there first and deserve their place in the sun.

The Chameleons- Don't Fall

I guess this stuff is the eighties equivalent of pomp rock. Their songs can meander in a windswept and interesting fashion but the influence of post-punk is there in the edgy guitar sounds. Mark Burgess always sounded vaguely 'upset', north Manchester can't have been much fun in 1983. The Chameleons are often held up as one of those 'they could have been huge' bands which always makes them seem more mysterious than contemporaries like U2. If you like a bit of earnest, furrowed browed seriousness then The Chameleons are the band for you. Their album covers are hilarious.

The Chameleons- Second Skin

The debut album Script for the Bridge is the one to buy

They released an album and toured a couple of years ago, I saw them at York Fibbers where they were mesmerizing. There is a website here

Friday, December 09, 2005

tinned peaches

Probably the most obvious blogging song I've posted yet, but if you've not heard this track before or if it's been a while, I urge you to give it a(nother) listen.

Frank Zappa - Peaches En Regalia

My earliest Zappa memories - being about 11-12 at the house of some friends of my parents watching a Whistle Test all-dayer with some older kids (I think we'd just watched "King Frat" on VHS...). I was half asleep and kept waking up throughout that crazy claymation video that he did - can't remember that title! Also, when I was 14-15, I always used to get into music conversations with my French teacher and he tried to lend me a knackered copy of "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" but the cover freaked me out so I didn't bother.

After many years of shoulder-shrugging and "I-don't-get-it"'s, I'm finally STARTING to get Zappa. I bought a "Best Of" about a month ago and have listened to this track an average of once a day ever since. This song is mental and mind-boggling - there are more ideas in 3.38 than most bands get through in an entire career. Listen to the wild instrumentation, the doubling on the melody lines, the abrupt shifts in texture. And try to imagine mixing it all down from 16 tracks to create a stereo master! Plus it's still really FUNKY!!

Buy The Best Of Frank Zappa

Thursday, December 01, 2005

cigarettes and alcohol

You get some music straight away and some music you don’t...and you can’t force it.

The Fiery Furnaces first album ‘Gallowbirds Bark’ pushed all the right buttons with me. I had no background info about them, they could have been an arts collective from Loughborough for all I knew.

I just loved the ferocious guitar playing, plunky keyboard, lolloping beats, and distracted female vocals. I guess looking back now it was nothing particularly big or clever, just twisted lumps of rough-edged folksy noise:

Asthma Attack - The Fiery Furnaces

 Two Fat Feet - The Fiery Furnaces

So I found out a bit about them - Brother/ Sister duo, Matt and Eleanor Friedberger, based in NYC. Seemed to have a pretty cool attitude to what they were doing. “Great” I thought in a slightly ironic but hopeful thirty-something way, “I’m on the edge! I have a NEW FAVOURITE SUPER-WEIRDO ALTERNATIVE BAND” I listened to the album a lot and looked forward to future releases.

Well I have to confess that I have since found it unfashionably hard to love the two albums which followed. My inner teenager won’t give up trying though.

You know how it works: some music you don’t ‘get’ straight away and you have to WORK on it. It’s like when you were 14 and you forced yourself to like the taste of beer and cigarettes. The good things in life don’t always come easy. So I sat down and listened to ‘Blueberry Boat’ many, many times.

Chris Michaels - The Fiery Furnaces

It’s got good bits don’t get me wrong... but as a whole the album grated. I should have been thrilled by the myriad shifts and turns within each ‘song’. I should have appreciated the sonic textures and unpredictable lyrics. I just found it (mostly) irritating and worrying, like being in a music room full of ADHD kids. It made me long for something more boring.

The following album ‘Rehearsing My Choir’ looked good on paper, one critic wrote that it was ‘almost zappa-esq’ in its storytelling ambitions (how could I not love it?) Working with their Gran to create a ‘rock opera’ about her life!? Radical! Crazy! I bought it, listened really hard and it really got on my nerves.

Still my new favourite band? No, but they are interesting.

Will I buy the next record? Probably.

(I have now mostly given up smoking but can still fully recommend the taste of beer.)

Buy albums...

Visit website...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

the crown jools

I sometimes ask myself, why am I posting these songs?

Sometimes it's the idea to share something that I think people won't have heard before, sometimes it's pure vanity. In this case it's taking something that's probably very familiar and saying 'listen to this again, it's bloody brilliant!' Such is the case with these two Squeeze singles.

Squeeze- Pulling Muscles (from the shell)

'Pulling Muscles (from the shell)' and 'Is that Love?' capture the genius of Squeeze, smart songwriting, clever wordplay and a story. It all sounds so simple but actually it's really difficult. These songs are full of neat little arranging tricks and musical twists, the guitar and piano breaks are real treats. At the same time it's not smug or too knowing, clever songwriting can be. You get a critical view of England but also an affectionate one.

Squeeze- Is that Love?

The other thing that occured to me about these songs was GlenTilbrook's voice. Mike Love of 'The Beach Boys' is often reviled by musicians but he has a great 'radio' voice, it cuts through on bad speakers and instantly grabs your attention. Debbie Harry also has this as does Glen Tilbrook, he opens his mouth and you know you're going to get a POP song.

You should buy this

Saturday, November 26, 2005

when maths met jazz

My love for The Bad Plus is well-documented and earlier this month everyone's favourite math-jazz-power-trio released their third studio album, "Suspicious Activity".

The release of "Suspicious Activity" has been blighted by Sony Records taking the bizarre decision to put spyware on US copies of the disc to stop PC users playing the CD they've bought on equipment that they own. Thanks, guys. The Bad Plus have been pretty vocal in their opposition to this on their website and new weblog.

It's a great album, a lot heavier than previous outings and with only one cover version, a righteous take on the theme to "Chariot's Of Fire" - guess they're getting mighty sick of being "that jazz band that do weird rock cover versions". No matter, as the tunes they write themselves are just fine, thank you very much.

The Bad Plus - Rhinoceros Is My Profession

As usual, the album was recorded as-live (a couple of minor embellishments but we shan't quibble) and captures the disturbing level of synchronicity between the trio - they change their mode of attack frequently and in an instant. It's head-spinning stuff, as The Guardian correspondent who went to jam with them found out. (read the article here)

My favourite bit in the article, which gives you a pretty good insight into their 'headspace', is where they talk about their ideal quintet featuring Ornette Coleman and Cookie Monster:
(drummer Dave King): "..that would be an amazing combination, if people could just get beyond the fact that it is Cookie Monster. Just visually it would be stunning: Ornette with a really beautiful suit, really playing, and this whole thing being done really earnestly, and Cookie Monster go-ing-to-TOWN and talking in double negatives all the time. It would be pretty happening."
The Bad Plus - Flim (Aphex Twin cover)

The new album conveys the ferocious power that they can conjure up live - as this tune confirms, they can also do beautiful and subtle, too

Visit The Bad Plus and buy "Blunt Object - Live in Tokyo"
Visit "Do the Math", The Bad Plus weblog
Buy "Suspicious Activity" (European edition)

Monday, November 21, 2005

through being cool

I'd like to dedicate this post to our cyber-buddies, the good people at Last Night An MP3 Saved My Wife, which closed it's doors last week. Our brethren in the fight against against accepted notions of what's "cool", I like to think they'd approve.

One thing you need to know is that there are NO guilty pleasures on DominoRally - these tracks are the ones that we are truly passionate about. Sometimes it'll be new stuff, sometimes old but whatever it is you have our cast-iron guarantee that whoever has posted it LOVES it. Case in point: Billy Joel's attempt to meld Bruce Springsteen to side 2 of 'Abbey Road'.

Billy Joel - Scenes From An Italian Restaurant

This is a brilliant song, a kind of mini-opera. It has been pointed out to me that I like songs where there are many different tunes going off at once, and that's what's going on here. After an almost Clayderman-esque piano intro, it's "A bottle of white, a bottle of red, perhaps a bottle of rose instead..." - there's even an accordian (at the time, Billy's band would set up a table on stage, break bread and raise a glass of wine to the audience - Beck Who??). The sort of sax break that normally makes me want to commit mass-murder comes in but it's so New Yoik, isn't it?

At 1.44 a great gear-change - to paraphrase what oxbow said in his Status Quo post, if you're not bouncing about in your seat at this point then you're a fool.

At 2.48 - the best bit! It makes me insanely happy everytime we get to the story of Brenda and Eddie (Ben Folds who??). This is also the bit where, in the Broadway production that always accompanies this song in my head, the lights suddenly go down, coming up just as suddenly as the rollerskating dancers start to zoom around Billy's piano.

At 6.00, we're back at the restaurant, the strings give me chills. It's quite, quite tasteless and shameless but I genuinely love it all the same.

We stole most of the ideas contained in "Scene's From An Italian Restaurant" wholesale for the Johnny Domino song "This One's For The Kid" - sorry, Billy! It too starts off like the final number of a Broadway show (can't you just see the dancers, high-kicking their way across the stage??) and it all get's a bit Starlight-Express at 3.15.

Johnny Domino - This One's For The Kid

Vist Billy Joel
Buy 'The Stranger' by Billy Joel
Visit Johnny Domino

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

human amusements at hourly rates

Some things you need to know about me: I don't take recommendations too kindly. Nothing is more likely to get me to ignore something than someone who's opinion I respect telling me, "you'll love this!" (and yes, I am aware of the ironies involved in being responsible for a mp3 blog, but we each have our crosses to bear).

Secondly, I ALWAYS get things too late, or at least 6 months after everyone else.

Case in point: my good friend Brian, former band-mate and tape-maker extraordinaire, repeatedly tried to get me into Guided By Voices but I just didn't get it, didn't see what the fuss was. And he was right, I should have loved them. They had everything I need from an indie-rock band - let's look at the facts:

1) bewildering song and album titles
2) self-mythologising frontman/songwriter
and most importantly;
3) preposterously labyrinthine back catalogue consisting mostly of ludicrously hard-to-track-down records

What's not to love??

On 31 December 2004, Guided By Voices called it a day. With astonishing timing, two weeks later I bought "Human Amusements At An Hourly Rate", a 32-track GBV best of. Guess what? I love it. And, yes, I am an ass.

Guided By Voices - Surgical Focus (from "Do The Collapse")

It's well documented that Bob Pollard is a complete Beatles-freak - but not in an Oasis-magpie style, nicking all the best bits. It's like he's really studied them and learnt from them - the chord change at the start of the chorus (dip to relative minor followed by a chromatic descending sequence, if you want to know) is pure Lennon & McCartney. Doesn't matter what the song's about, it's a class example of word-painting and it makes it feel like it should be about something.

Guided By Voices - Teenage FBI (from "Wish In One Hand" EP)

I've no idea if the tracks I've chosen are representative of their work as a whole, all I know is that they worked for me and made me feel stupid for not having paid attention at the time. Maybe they'll do the same for you, or you can point me in the direction of further listening.

Guided By Voices - Things I Will Keep (from "Alien Lanes")

I won't insult them by trying to cobble together a potted version of their 21-year history, you should really check out their Wikipedia entry, which tells you all you need to know.

Guided By Voices - The Best Of Jill Hives (from "Earthquake Glue")

... and Brian, if you're reading this, sorry! I'll make up for it with a comprehensive set of links...

Read the Pitchfork review of the final GBV shows
Play with the GBV song title creator!
Watch "Guided By Voices: The Electrifying Conclusion" on DVD
Read "Guided by Voices: A Brief History: Twenty-One Years of Hunting Accidents in the Forests of Rock and Roll"
Buy "Human Amusements at Hourly Rates - The Best of Guided By Voices"

Thursday, November 10, 2005

into the mystic... and back again

Occasionally I like to drift into "buy an album because the cover looks interesting" mode. I'm sure plenty of you have done the same: sometimes your mysterious purchase turns out to be utter shit, other times you stumble across an absolute gem... I'm happy to say that today's posting concerns one of the latter (in the future I might be tempted to drop a steamer).

Lay-dees and gentlemen, I offer you two tracks from "Cosmic Tree" by the Rabbinical School Dropouts! (maybe I should mention that the picture above IS NOT the cover artwork - follow the links below for that!) As you can probably guess, it wasn't just the cover image, but the whole schtick that caught my attention...

Cosmic Tree

A rich vein of twisted humour runs throughout the album, as does a genre-crushing sense of adventure: there's helpings of klezmer, punk, jazz and more, sometimes all in one song! The second track I've selected is a personal favourite.

Semitic Slam

I've only just looked at their site and discovered that they have two other albums out... Go hunt them down!
Tzadik records
buy "Cosmic Tree

Sunday, November 06, 2005

remember Arthur Seaton says he won't be beaten

The world of The Pale Fountains is a world of wide screen romance. It's a world where Bacharach and David tunes play on the radio and kitchen sink dramas are played out in soft focus....all the work of a bunch of Scousers. This is, of course, not everybody's cup of tea but I'm as smitten with them now as I was as a teenage romantic. Emerging from the post-punk scene with anything but grey overcoats on their agenda, they only ever released two albums but if you are of the Roddy Frame/Edwyn Collins perfect pop mindset they should be essential purchases. After a single on Les Disques du Crepuscule (surely the most pretentious label name...ever!) they signed to Virgin where the pressure to have a hit single destroyed the band.

The first album 'Pacific Street' is, in terms of production, a bit of a mess...a case of too many ideas. The songs are great though and their trademark strumming acoustic 12 string and ba bA BAAAH brass sound is all there. 'Start a War' is The Paleys distilled and summarised.

The Pale Fountains- 'You'll Start A War'

Album no.2 '...From across the Kitchen Table' is a rockier record, it's a bit more focused. Songwriter, Michael Head is joined by guitarist brother John who plays brilliantly squally lines over simple chord progressions. The fact that even I can strum Pale Fountains tunes on guitar has always made them appealing. This is a gutsy, passionate record with its heart way out on its sleeve...perhaps a reason they couldn't get the hits Virgin needed.

The Pale Fountains- ...From across the Kitchen table

Mick and John Head are still out there as the brilliant 'Shack' who break cover from their Mersey paradise from time to time to be lauded as legendary only to disappear again...perhaps they prefer it like that.

To witness scousers argue over who knew The Paleys best (it's a good board actually) visit Shacknet

Buy 'Pacific Street' and 'From across the Kitchen Table' here

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


One of the first MP3 sites I discovered was Bubblegum Machine, a one-man journey into the darkest parts of his record collection. If you haven't seen it, delve into the massive collection of obscure singles, forgotten hits and weird psychedelia. The site (indirectly) resulted in me buying the Rhino Handmade compilation "Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets From The WEA Vaults", where these great tunes come from.

As the sleeve notes say, "just because these artists were going for mainstream acceptance doesn't mean they weren't also trying to achieve HEAVYOSITY in their own, artistic way. Just remember, it's a nugget if you dug it. So, let's go!

The Glass Family - House Of Glass

"The House Of Glass, man, is, like, self-explanatory - the opening theme. It's a story about all of us, the mystery of us, and our adventures for a year and a half"
bassist/keyboardist David Capilouto, from a promotional piece titled "David's Rap".

Thanks, Dave! What a great song...

The Next Exit - Break Away

Love the tremolo effect on the vocals! From the sleeve notes: "Sadly, no one involved in the making of this record can remember exactly who The Next Exit were"...

The Association - Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies

The image at the top of this post is from a bizarre traffic-calming scheme instigated by Derby City Council. Strangely, whenever I see one if these signs, I want to drive into it... NOT, I assume, the desired effect.

Visit Rhino Handmade
Visit Bubblegum Machine
Buy "Hallucinations: Psychedelic Pop Nuggets From The WEA Vaults"
Chill Out, Driver Dude

Sunday, October 30, 2005

thrash folk

'The Return Of The Magic Horses' (Intoarcerea cailor magica) - Taraf de Haidouks

This still sounds as insane and brilliant to me now as it did when I sat in my at my kitchen table one fateful Saturday tea time and listened to it for the first time. Staring off into the middle distance, mouth slightly open as the woman I share the kitchen with became increasingly annoyed and worried.

“What is THIS?!?”, she casually demanded over the manic swirling jig.

“Gypsies... from Romania...” I eventually replied, wiping the drool from the cd cover, my accordian-induced reverie temporarily interupted, “I... think... I like it.”

Well I guess its never going to rock everyone's boat, but the music of ‘Taraf de Haidouks’ (still Romania’s premiere Gypsy ensemble as far as I know) pushes my boat across the the lake to a strange and wonderful land. A land of of cubist melodies and frantic sonic detail and space. At times the whole band are playing so fast they actually seem to levitate, while the slow songs make me feel pissed and bohemian.

'Absinth I Drink You, Absinth I Eat You' (Pelin bau, pelin maninc) - Taraf de Haidouks

In world music circles they are a well established act. They once played at the Viper Room in LA for Johnny Depp, (what a gig! Can you imagine?) Their story is long and interesting, but I’m not going into that here - do a search, there’ s lots of stuff about them.

This album was recorded live in Bucharest and is an absolute gem. Buy it!

Friday, October 21, 2005

a hundred gutters

The Silver Jews latest album, "Tanglewood Numbers" is all over blog-land like some weird cyber-rash. It's a great album and you should really go and buy it.

Silver Jews have often been wrongly seen as a Pavement side-project, due to a fluctuating line-up that often included Pavement's Steve Malkmus and Bob Nastanovich, alongside main man David Berman. And I admit that was my view, until I heard "The Natural Bridge"(1996).

Silver Jews - Black And Brown Blues

It's really hard to write intelligently about things that are this natural and simple sounding. I love that the Mandolin break makes me think of "Maggie May" but there's nothing arch or "clever-clever" about this song. Despite it's seeming simplicity and the "route-one" chords it's a hearty meal for the soul, including one of my favourite lyrics ever:
When I go downtown
I always wear a corduroy suit
cause it's made of a hundred gutters
that the rain can run right through
but a lonely man can't make a move
if he can't even bring himself to choose
between a pair of black and a pair of brown shoes
As well as being the only consistent band member, David Berman is a published poet. Alongside lyics of skewed romanticism there is a strong dark vein running through their stuff, only further added to by a disarmingly frank interview that Berman recently gave to Pitchfork (see link at the bottom of this post).

Silver Jews - Pet Politics

This song features the following lines, which are weird, comic, spiritual, disturbing, all at once - quite an achievement!
Adam was not the first man 'though the Bible tells us so
There was one created before him, whose name we do not know
He also lived in the garden
but he had no mouth or eyes
One day Adam came to kill him
and he died beneath these skies
Anyway, just to lighten the mood (a little bit - not too much!) here's a track from "American Water"(1998), a song that starts with the immortal line "In 1984 I was hospitalized for approaching perfection" and goes on to take in line-dancing, divorce and all points in between.

Silver Jews - Random Rules

There may well be a treat in the comments section for interested parties...

Visit Silver Jews
Read Pitchfork interview with DC Berman
Buy Silver Jews releases

Sunday, October 16, 2005

video junkie

So who remembers Max Headroom? Back in the days when videos were still important and Channel 4 was in its infancy Max Headroom was a half hour video show presented by a 'computer generated', stuttering talking head. It was really some dude in a rubber mask but we were more easily pleased back then. I first saw/heard Bill Nelson's 'Do you dream in colour' on that show, loved the steam powered drums and odd atmosphere and bought a secondhand copy of the album it comes from in Durham Market. 'Quit Dreaming and Get on the Beam' came with an instrumental album made on broken equipment.....excellent!

Bill Nelson- Do You Dream In Colour

Bill Nelson has had a long and varied career at the arty end of the musical spectrum. He was the 'axe hero' in 'Be Bop Deluxe' a band that sat uneasily between prog rock and glam pop. Since then he has produced loads of solo albums, often a little pretentious but always interesting. These tracks have that home made, early synth thing that I love. They were recorded in 1978 but to me they sound very 'now'.

Bill Nelson- Living In My Limousine

Find out more about Bill here

I thought this would have been deleted but you can get it here

Thursday, October 13, 2005

checkered past

Cheap Trick - Hello There

AaaH! the perfect song to kick off my contribution to Domino Rally. This has to be the best "sound check" number around!

I love this band; their music is truly dynamic. It bristles with perfect pop hooks, subversive humour and er, 12-string bass. Their look is a winner too: that unlikely fusion of two effeminate pretty boys, a hyperactive nerd and the chain-smoking private dick on drums. Compared to the legions of spandex clad poodles and punk fashion victims, they had real personality.

I am one of the subset of Trick fans who got into the band thanks to Steve Albini. the Big Black version of "He's a Whore" was the first Trick song I heard. Albini and co. do a good rendition, but the original is superior. There's a lot more bass for a start...

Cheap Trick - He's a Whore

visit Cheap Trick
buy their music

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

will you love me tomorrow?

An abject lesson in "owning" a song...

Everyone knows The Shirelles' version of this Goffin-King classic - the jaunty rhumba-esque rhythm, the close harmonies, and the rush of the orchestra into the final "So tell me know and I won't ask again...". Classic Girl Group pop with a classic girl group lyric: "did I go too far on that date and is he going to call again?"

No man could perform that... right?

William Bell - Will You Love Me Tomorrow

William Bell had a number of hits (including "You Don't Miss Your Water", and "Private Number" with Judy Clay) but was always going to be in Otis Redding's shadow - he even recorded "A Tribute To A King" after Otis died.

He pulls out a few of Otis' trademarks here (just short of a "got-ta got-ta" in a few places) but makes the song his own, his high and fragile reading giving it a real edge. The man sounds desperately in love and the accompaniament on this, like on so many Stax cuts from the time, is an amazing example of "less is more".

If you're in the right mood (as I was when I dug this one out for the first time in ages the other night), it can take your breath away.

Talk about flights of fancy - maybe the girl William is with in the song really wanted to be with Otis!

William Bell page on Stax website
Stax website
Buy Stax O' Soul

Friday, October 07, 2005

when the sun's gone down

The other night I went to Derby Guildhall to see The Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players. As you probably know, they're a self-styled indie-vaudeville act, a father, mother and daughter that go to yard sales and thrift stores buy up old collections of slides and write songs about them.

At first they were really funny and the songs were cool but after a while it was like they were beating me about the head with their SCHTICK. It got boring really fast and I started imagining the revenge that the daughter will visit upon her parents after years touring the world - I think she'll become a high-powered corporate lawyer.

The evening was saved by the support, Langhorne Slim, a man in a beat-up hat wearing a corduroy suit, belting out songs on an acoustic guitar. There was a marked absence of SCHTICK or GIMMICK. It was great.

Langhorne Slim - And If It's True


Langhorne Slim - Mary

Langhorne Slim - Loretta Lee Jones

How to describe him? A hillbilly Tom Waits? A white shitkicking country-blues artist? I dunno. He tells a great story. He loves to dance. His voice is a piercing, keening yelp, that grabs hold and demands attention.

He kept apologising that all of his songs were about love and lost-love and never-found-love. But that's what the blues is about, isn't it?

Visit Langhorne Slim
Buy "When The Sun's Gone Down" by Langhorne Slim

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

entertainment program for humans


Servotron - I Sing! The Body Cybernetic

Servotron - Erotomatica

Servotron were an offshoot band of Man... or Astroman?? and were absolutely the best band we've ever played with, at the Malt & Hops, Stafford, in (yikes!) May 1998.

The Malt & Hops was, if memory serves, on a traffic island on the Stafford ring road and was a traditional looking pub - think 'American Werewolf in London'.

Before they played Servotron got into character and costume, the weirdest home-made robot get-ups you've ever seen. They were obviously playing with minimal visibility, judging by the helmets that the drummer and bassist were wearing. By the way, is there a heterosexual-man-of-a-certain-age alive that doesn't fancy Lady Robots??

Throughout the set, they didn't drop the mask once, indulging in hilarious dead-pan banter with the crowd and playing one of the coolest, tightest sets I've ever seen.

We'd had a bit of chit-chat with Servotron beforehand and they were really cool people - it will come as no surprise that they were seriously into Devo, so we hit it off. Marc-o's Korg MS-10 still wears it's Servotron sticker with pride.

Servotron page on Lookout Records site
Buy Entertainment Program For Humans

Saturday, October 01, 2005

domino rally hot 100

Well, The Rally (as precisely no-one is calling it) has racked up 100 tunes - not bad going.

Below is a list of everything we've posted so far. If the tune is still available, click through to the relevant post. If you missed something that's no longer available, leave us a comment and I'll try to get it back online.

1) They Might Be Giants - Now That I Have Everything
2) They Might Be Giants - The Famous Polka
3) Propaganda - Murder of Love
4) The Isley Brothers - Who loves you better
5) Al Green - L-O-V-E (Love)
6) Throwing Muses - Snail Head
7) Throwing Muses - Mexican Women
8) The Posies - I May Hate You Sometimes
9) The Posies - Solar Sister
10) The Bad Plus - And Here We Test our Powers of Observation
11) The Bad Plus - Iron Man
12) XTC - Grass
13) XTC - Ladybird (Mummer Version)
14) Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan - Rahway Wasdi Jhok Faridan Di
15) Nino Tempo & April Stevens - I've Been Carrying A Torch For You So Long That I Burned A Great Big Hole In My Heart
16) Nino Tempo & April Stevens - Deep Purple
17) Three O'Clock - Jet Fighter
18) Rain Parade - You Are My Friend
19) Gary Byrd & The GB Experience - The Crown
20) Devo - Uncontrollable Urge
21) Devo - Be Stiff
22) David Lee Roth - Just Like Paradise
23) David Lee Roth - Damn Good
24) Prefab Sprout - Walk On
25) Prefab Sprout - Lions in my own Garden
26) Prefab Sprout - Cue Fanfare
27) The B-52's - Whammy Kiss
28) OMD - Bunker Soldiers
29) Dalek I - Destiny (Dalek I Love You)
30) Hall & Oates - Rich Girl
31) Hall & Oates - Back Together Again
32) Bradford - Skin Storm
33) Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - Little House I Used To Live In
34) Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention - The Mud Shark
35) Velvet Underground - Lisa Says (live 1969)
36) Velvet Underground - Sweet Jane (live 1969)
37) Velvet Underground - Rock And Roll (live 1969)
38) Golden Smog - Until You Came Along
39) Golden Smog - Please Tell My Brother
40) Son Volt - Windfall
41) Son Volt - Mystifies Me
42) The Beat - Too Nice To Talk To
43) The Beat - Twist And Crawl
44) April March - Cet Air La
45) April March - Chick Habit
46) April March - Stay Away From Robert Mitchum
47) Tom Waits - Poncho's Lament
48) Tom Waits - I'm Your Late Night Evening Prostitute
49) Tom Waits - Frank's Song
50) Japan - Swing
51) Japan - All Tomorrows Parties
52) Matthew Sweet - Superdeformed
53) Matthew Sweet - You Don't Love Me
54) Johnny Domino - New Pink Shirt
55) Johnny Domino - Forever In Blue Jeans
56) The Upsetters - Kentucky Skank
57) David Isaacs - We Are Neighbors
58) Frank Sidebottom - Anarchy In The UK
59) Frank Sidebottom - Popular Medley
60) Frank Sidebottom - Everybody (Loves To) Sing Queen
61) Herbie Hancock - Rain Dance
62) McCarthy - Red Sleeping Beauty
63) McCarthy - Should the Bible be Banned
64) April March - Voodoo Doll
65) April March - Kooky
66) Victor Banana - Slumber, Precious
67) Neil Smythe - Onions Make Me Weep
68) Neil Smythe - Teen Hobo
69) Neil Smythe - I Wanna Be A Dummy
70) Neil Smythe - Peace, It's A Gasser
71) Neil Smythe - My Shoulder
72) Dean Friedman - Woman Of Mine
73) Dean Friedman - Rocking Chair
74) Meat Puppets - Dolphin Field
75) Meat Puppets - Split Myself In Two
76) Meat Puppets - Up On The Sun
77) Sebadoh - Weird
78) Minutemen - Viet Nam
79) Minutemen - One Reporter's Opinion
80) Minutemen - Doctor Wu
81) The Teardrop Explodes - Tiny Children
82) The Teardrop Explodes - Passionate Friend
83) The Pale Saints - Timethief
84) The Pale Saints - Kinky Love
85) D'Angelo - The Root
86) Dungen - Panda
87) Dungen - Festival
88) The Cult - Spiritwalker
89) The Cult - Resurrection Joe
90) Status Quo - Mean Girl
91) Trumans Water - Aroma Of Gina Arnold
92) Trumans Water - Playboy Stabtone Bloodbath Go
93) Madonna - Burning Up
94) Ciccone Youth - Burnin' Up
95) Colin Blunstone - How Wrong Can One Man Be
96) Colin Blunstone - Say You Don't Mind
97) Prince - Superfunkycalifragisexy
98) Prince - Bob George
99) Patrick Skelly and the Prescriptions - My Dear
100) Patrick Skelly and the Prescriptions - Rosalind Berry

Friday, September 30, 2005

creme brulee

First of all, apologies for the audio quality on this one, it was burned from a badly shredding cassette nearly 15 years old! This post is the result of a brainwave I had about local bands that you and about 10 other people cared about and how the download revolution could bring them back from the 'dumper' (I have noticed other Dominoids using terminology culled from old copies of 'Smash Hits'). So there's the background and hopefully future posts might include some not rubbish local bands.

Patrick Skelly and the Prescriptions- Rosalind Berry

Patrick Skelly and the Prescritions- My Dear

That very term 'local band' implies half-arsed crapness but it's the very fact that bands often come from dull provincial towns that acts as a spur to rampant creativity to relieve the boredom. Patrick Skelly and the Prescriptions came from Hartlepool, at the time this stuff was recorded a godawful, end of the line port on the North East coast best known for an amusing local legend regarding a monkey....monkey.... hahahahaha! Patrick recorded with his mates in a local studio that provided the local dole-ites with somewhere to be artistic and shelter from the bitter wind blowing off the North Sea. The influences are easy to spot here and there is an obvious word I could use to describe it but I will refrain due to its recent over-use! I just think this is really well played and well executed and great fun. I still treasure that cassette and will cry when it finally snaps.

No links as they no longer exist but I think they were probably influenced by.........this

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

none more black

Your name is Prince. And you are funky. It's 1988. You've released 'Sign O Times' - your 'What's Going On' - to massive acclaim. So what are you going to follow it with, other than your 'Let's Get It On'?

Prince - Superfunkycalifragisexy

I was 14/15 at the time and "The Black Album" on the dodgy third generation copy I got off a mate was the best thing I had ever heard. Mostly recorded in the persona of Camille, the dirty-minded character first introduced on "Sign O the Times", the whole thing never really gets above crotch level, apart from the bizarre Butthole Surfers-like "Bob George", a scarifying, Prince-as-pimp, audio-drama - eat that, R. Kelly.

Prince - Bob George

Prince pulled the album before it's official release fearing it was too dark. I'm sure that in the 'Lovesexy' tour programme, he hinted that he had been possessed by the devil at the time. But on that tour he did versions of both of these tracks.

Considering how 'Lovesexy' turned out, does the devil really have all the best tunes? Discuss!

Visit NPG Music Online
Visit Prince fansite
Buy The Black Album

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

this is your captain calling

Colin Blunstone- How Wrong Can One Man Be

So the nights close in and thoughts turn to walks through autumn leaves, roaring fires, fine wines, Belgian chocolates and......the Belgian chocolatey voice of Colin Blunstone. The former lead-singer of insurance clerk Beat group The Zombies had and has a fine set of honeyed pipes. I have dim recollections of Blunstone's solo albums as a child but he would usually lose out in my Dad's affections to Steely Dan and my Mam's '70's obsession with David Essex.....we must have a Bread post sometime.....Steve? Even as a nipper I recognised this was a special voice if a little too velvety compared to the far superior rock majesty of The Wombles.

Colin Blunstone- Say You Don't Mind

'How wrong can one man be' captures the whole 70's singer-songwriter vibe, it's warm, cute and quickly digested. 'Say you don't mind' haunted me for years as I kept catching bits of it on the radio without hearing who it was. I love the way the string section grooves along and that hi-fi voice, so unashamedly clear and beautiful. It may be a bit too 'Peter Skellern' for the more cynical amongst us but I would suggest that 'Say you don't mind' is a LOVELY song, no more no less.

Colin is still touring today

This is a good thing to buy

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

the george lucas of pop

Madonna - Burning Up

Mike Watt/Ciccone Youth - Burnin' Up

So, recently I moved in with my fiancee and the great joining of the CD collections took place - not as traumatic as we first thought and there was a lot of crossover.

But listening to her "Immaculate Collection" made me scuttle back to my copy of Madonna's self-titled debut, and that's where the title for this post comes from. How much revisionism can you get on one CD?? Where are all the lesser hits? If you're going to have bloody "Crazy For You", where's "Angel"? If Madonna is famous for allegedly re-inventing herself at the drop of a hat, where are all the tunes where she went a bit "off-message"? Isn't that part of her appeal, or for "reinvention" should we read "removal"?

It's like she's airbrushed the stuff out that made her so interesting in the first place. And the re-edited songs and re-recorded vocals... I'm sorry, luv, but that piano bit at the end of "Holiday" is part of my youth - stick it back in. It's kind of how the "Special Edition" versions of the 'Star Wars' films just aren't as 'special' as the originals, no matter how much THX and glitter old beardy-boy throws at them.

When Madge first appeared in the early 80s it was love at first sight, my first proper pop-star crush. I remember seeing her on The Tube in her groovy day-glo knitwear and weird fingerless gloves. The first album has "Lucky Star", "Holiday", "Borderline", but also a load of REALLY average songs - the kind of songs that you can imagine soundtracking a montage in (say) "Footloose" - the main characters in love, running on a beach, dancing in a barn, trying on endless "hilarious" outfits. It's good to hear that she didn't always know exactly what she was doing.

And the Mike Watt/Ciccone Youth version is here because someone will ask me to post it anyway!

Buy Madonna's first album
Buy Ciccone Youth's "The Whitey Album"
Visit Madonna
Visit Mike Watt's Hoot page
Visit Sonic Youth

Friday, September 16, 2005

running down a hill

Trumans Water formed in San Diego in 1991. John Peel (in)famously played their debut LP "Of Thick Tum" in entirety on his show.

They never really took off, a bit of an indie trainspotter obsession (hi there!). Maybe they were a bit ahead of their time - the means of music production have now become so decentralised that CDR and web-only record labels can afford to distribute ever-more niche musical styles. Artists can themselves release endless CDRs to their audience without excessive financial outlay. Trumans Water released their improvised-vinyl-only-albums-with-hand-made-sleeves and probably bankrupted themselves and everyone they dealt with.

Trumans Water - Aroma of Gina Arnold

"Aroma of Gina Arnold" is for me their best song - ok, it's over 8 minutes long but stick with it, it's a GREAT performance. The abrasive musical style and bizarre vocals are obvious, but underneath the mayhem the lyrics are great. Gina Arnold is a music journalist (and sometime Stereolab vocalist) who sprung up in the early 90s and did a few hack biogs. Trumans Water obviously aren't keen.
They said our youth was dead, how could they know?
We're stinking in our beds, we're lying low.
You're plastic order sucks and it's gonna blow...
Let either side confess they do not know.
I really could care less who paved the road.
You're plastic culture sucks and it's gonna blow...
"Aroma of Gina Arnold" starts with "The Note" - a lot of their songs use "The Note". It's a common-or-garden, bog-standard note, but they make it sound like the guitar strings are rusted and they're playing with a flint instead of a plectrum. They keep circling around and returning to "The Note" throughout the song, but it won't quite settle.

At the 4 minute mark they hit a perverse arhytmical section before they ratchet up the tension. "The Note" reappears at 5.30 - sweet jesus, what have they done to the strings?

After that they keep mucking about with their tunings - the bit at 7.18 makes me feel a bit pissed.

At 8.03 the note rides it to the finish line - phew, back home again!

SteveDomino says: "Every now and then I get the urge to play some incredibly loud music, the kind of stuff that sounds like the perfect soundtrack to running pell-mell down a hill, arms flailing, the whole caboodle. When I get that feeling, I reach for Trumans Water!"

Trumans Water - Playboy Stabtone Bloodbath Go

Visit Trumans Water
Buy Spasm Smash XXX Ox Ox Ox and Ass (features "...Gina Arnold")
Buy Godspeed The Punchline (features "Playboy Stabtone...")

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Pub Rock Master Works (Pt 1. Vol 1)

Mean Girl by Status Quo

0:08 A-Chinga Chinga Chinga Chinga...

0:18 Rossi starts to sing. His slightly tentative approach is echoed in the band’s overall sound. It’s as if they can’t quite believe that it can be this simple. This is the sound of a band realising that they no longer need to put on all of that psychedelic puffery that didn’t really suit them: twelve (golden) bars is all they need...

0:52 The line ‘She was a big one, I met at a gig one’, is sung for the first time.

1:13 First guitar solo starts; unflashy and taut, as the tune really starts to chug along. If your head (at least!) is not moving rhythmically back and forth at this point then you are either dead or Brian Sewell

1:54 ...after which Rossi comes in with noticeably more conviction as they all dig into the boogie riff. They have it! The career defining riff that will keep them in beer money and send their children to university (where, coincidentally, one of their children will one day meet the woman who will later become my wife).

2:37 Second solo starts. Dirty and to the point.

3:26 can’t be ending it like tha....oh...oh. Yes they can.

Visit the official Status Quo web site

Buy the original album with this track on
( I got it on a cheapo compilation from Asda actually).

Monday, September 12, 2005

there is a redskin, suffering...

The Cult - Spiritwalker

Perhaps I should just sellotape the 'Kick me' sign to my jacket now! I am going to get slated for this one. Here they come riding over the plains of West Yorkshire, the Four Horsemen of the Goth Apocalypse....The Cult. Ian Astbury expressing the pain and anguish of being the only Native American brave to be born in Bradford. This is the Big rock from the Big country...should that be Big County. The Cult's rock just got bigger and bigger and they provided me with two of the best nights out ever, at Newcastle City Hall on the 'Love' tour and an evening of wonderful dumb metal after they decided to stop messing with the Goth stuff and became a proper rock band on the 'Electric' tour. That gig was at the Manchester Appollo...a real old fashioned rock venue. Did I mention the word 'rock'.

The Cult - Resurrection Joe

I honestly haven't got much to say about 'Resurrection Joe' and 'Spiritwalker', they remind me of nights of rum and black and provincial alternative nights when the delicate creatures of the night donned black to perform their serpentine dance of death to The Sisters, The Mish, The Neph etc. I was always more of a Bunnyman but I did occasionally cut a rug to this nonsense. This post is for anyone who experienced ye olde alternative discotheque c1984- deserve a medal.

Buy all the hits here