Wednesday, May 31, 2006

rally on the rally

I was lucky enough to round off a hat-trick of quality local gigs with Phoenix at the Rescue Rooms in Nottingham last night. It was a great gig and you got the feeling that the band were genuinely touched by the response of the crowd. Although they've been around for a while, there's a real sense that "It's Never Been Like That" is their breakthrough point. It's easily their best album, slightly rougher-round-the-edges than previous efforts, but if you have even a passing interest in the redemptive powers of pop-music played with guitars, then you have to buy it. It will make you grin like a loon all the way through.

Phoenix - Rally

It's hard to pick a track that comes anyway close to the rush of GOOD VIBES you get from playing the album all the way through from the start, as great song follows great song. All killer no filler. But only a French band could write a love song about meeting at a political demonstration.

Buy - It's Never Been Like That
Visit - Phoenix at MySpace
Visit -

Monday, May 29, 2006

the sincerest form of flattery

'Dear Catastrophe Waitress' by Belle and Sebastian has slyly crept up to become one of my favourite albums. I resisted Belle and Sebastian for a long time, all too hushed, bookish and a bit samey (not usually things that put me off but for some reason I just couldn't get on with them). A lot of their long time fans were a bit troubled by the idea of their favourite Scottish intellectuals being produced by the King of 80's thunderous synth bass, Trevor Horn. I think it worked a treat, with Horn bringing out their melodic sense while staying true to their low key sound. 'I'm a Cuckoo' is a joy with its lyrical and musical references to the great Thin Lizzy.

I'm a Cuckoo- Belle and Sebastian

I love the idea of this uber-Indie band playing with the harmony guitars and ringing chords that typify a Lizzy song while staying recognisably Belle and Sebastian, it's playful but reverential, as the mighty Phil Lynott deserves. I think he might have winked if he heard it.

Don't Believe a Word- Thin Lizzy

Most B and S fans are obsessed with the band, I think in the future they will occupy similar territory to The Beautiful South bringing knowing, clever music to 'nice' people. Feel free to disagree. Check out YouTube for their video for 'Step into my office, baby' which is a great tribute to Robin Askwith movies....phwoar!

Visit Belle and Sebastian

Buy 'Dear Catastrophe Waitress' by Belle and Sebastian

Buy 'Greatest Hits'- Thin Lizzy

Thursday, May 25, 2006

you remind me of the babe...

Oh my goodness, look at the hair. Just be thankful on this picture you can't really see that he's wearing the tightest trousers in Christendom. Careful Dave, you'll have someone's eye out.

David Bowie - Magic Dance (from the 'Labyrinth' soundtrack)

I only saw Labyrinth for the first time a few years ago – I enjoyed it but it's a no-brainer, really. My love for all things Henson is well documented and David Bowie is The Don, a truly great artist who is still super cool. Labyrinth and the accompanying soundtrack are not exactly the high-point of his career, but I like the fact that he did it - knowing that people were going to take the piss.

If you can get to the end of Magic Dance without seeing how long there is left, you're made of stronger stuff than I. However, do try to stick around for the truly bizarre solo.

Obviously I was never going to post just that track, was I? In wanting to redress the balance I turned to one of my favourites of his albums, Pin Ups.

David Bowie - Port Of Amsterdam (Jacques Brel cover)

David Bowie - Growin' Up (Bruce Springsteen cover)

Port Of Amsterdam was used on the b-side of Sorrow. Between this and Magic Dance you pretty much get his entire artistic journey - from bisexual, Brel-lovin', mime-artist to family-friendly wizard in two easy stages.

I love Growin' Up because Pin Ups (this track is an outtake from the sessions) really sounds like Bowie's having a blast doing covers of some of his favourite tracks - this is nice and loose.

These are from an old EMI CD release of the album, and they seem to be pretty hard to track down. If anyone knows any better, let me know and I’ll add them to the list below – thanks!

If you don't at least own Bowie’s 1970’s releases, then run – DON’T WALK! - to a record shop NOW.

Buy - David Bowie CDs
Buy - Labyrinth DVD
Buy - Labyrinth OST
Buy - Pin Ups (Ryko CD re-issue - the only place I can find those extra "Pin Ups" tracks)
Visit - BowieNet
Visit - Jim Henson at

Friday, May 19, 2006

it’s kind of level but its wavy

What's this? New (or at least contemporary) music on Domino Rally? Well I never...

I'm sure that all the cool kids will have been blogging this lot with a vengeance for yonks. But we've never been cool and, while we're not quite New Music For Middle-Aged Men, it's been some time since any of us were kids. So here are The Spinto Band.

The Spinto Band - Brown Boxes

The Spinto Band - Oh Mandy

The influences are pretty obvious - Flaming Lips, Pavement, Talking Heads, XTC, etc - but so what? They've been listening to the good stuff, at least!

This album came out in the UK earlier this year but I didn't catch up with them until they did these two tracks on Jools Holland's TV show earlier this month, which means I missed out on their recent tour - maybe next time.

Look - it's undemanding pop music and like I said, the influences are fairly obvious. But this album cheered me up no end last night - some great tunes with cool lyrics and an infectiously energetic approach to song writing. Everyone loves a kazoo, right?

However, I do worry that, in "Oh Mandy", they've created a rod for their own backs - that song is so good. What d'you think?

Visit -
Visit - The Spinto Band on MySpace
Buy - "Nice And Nicely Done" by The Spinto Band

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

I wonder if he speaks like an ordinary guy?

Christmas 1980 and all the way from Canada Santa brings me 'Permanent Waves' by Rush. Imagine my parents joy as the cosy festivities are accompanied by interminable slices of techno rock and Geddy Lee's truly bizarre voice. By 1980 metal and prog bands were feeling the backlash of Punk and New Wave. Many decided to weather the storm by paying it no heed, a few rolled with the punches. Rush didn't compromise their awesome chops and ability to take us on a (long) musical journey. They did incorporate the sleek modern sounds of those new fangled synths to complement their double necked guitars. Geddy Lee resembled a tap dancing octopus as he dealt with vocals, bass, synths and Moog Taurus footpedals. Freewill is typical of 'Permanent Waves', I love it, the earnest 'We've read some philosophy' lyrics, the high energy riffing, Neil Peart's falling down the stairs drumfills and best of all at 3.04 Geddy's bass solo followed by an Alex Lifeson solo that'll have yer eyes out. In a nutshell that's the great thing about this music, it brings the easily impressed 12 year old out in you. It's not big or clever but then neither are most 12 year olds....hurrah.

Rush- Freewill

Visit Rush apparently they are lovely chaps

Buy Permanent Waves here

Saturday, May 13, 2006

you've got a friend

Not a whole lot to say about this track other than LISTEN.

Don't know where you are but it's been hotter than a snakes' ass for the last couple of days in Domino-Land. Looks set to turn for the worse so enjoy this beautiful bit of laid-back soul.

"Donny Hathaway Live" was something I'd heard about as being one of THE best live albums ever and it doesn't disappoint in any way, it's an incredible album. A supremely funky band knock out 100% quality music, all killer no filler, recorded over two nights in 1971. The really amazing thing about the album is the audience, who sound like they're having the best night of their lives and probably are. There are two classic bits - THE BEST soul-clap ever on a 13 minute take of "The Ghetto", and the backing vocals on this version of Carole King's "You've Got A Friend".

Donny Hathaway - You've Got A Friend (live)

Listen to this at volume and if it doesn't soothe away your troubles and get you ready for the weekend, then there's no hope for you. Listen to it again!

Visit - Donny Hathaway at Soul Walking
Visit - Donny Hathaway on Wikipedia
Buy - for goodness' sake do yourself a favour and buy "Donny Hathaway Live"!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

frank zappa - king kong (1968)

Been a bit quiet 'round the rally of late, so I thought I'd share this gem that Ox sent to me with the following instructions:

Watch all of THIS
without interuption,
all the way to the end

Enjoy - it's a great performance and a good example of Reithian principles of public service broadcasting - to educate, inform and entertain (or summat).

Do not adjust your set - normal service will resume soon!

Visit -



just watched this AGAIN.

Damn it's good!
the intro
the bed
'consult a psyciatrist'
the horn solo
the build to the guitar solo
the lead tambourine playing



This is WAY better than Peter Jackson's remake, and a good deal shorter too...

The bed is a great touch.

Actually, I must confess that I haven't seen Peter Jackson's remake, but this just has to be better!!! "

Sunday, May 07, 2006

part company

It seems ironic to use a Robert Forster title for this post but it seemed apt. On Saturday 6th May 2006, Australian singer-songwriter and member of The Go-Betweens Grant McLennan died in his sleep at his home in Brisbane. Adored for their literate and thoughtful pop music The Go-Betweens have gone from strength to strength since their reformation. My brother introduced me to the world of The Go-Betweens and I have loved their subtle music ever since. Grant wrote some of their most memorable songs, I could have picked dozens but these, I feel are some of his best.

The Go-Betweens- Cattle and Cane

The Go-Betweens- Bye, Bye Pride

The Go-Betweens- Apology Accepted

Visit The Go-Betweens

Buy 'Bellavista Terrace'- The Best of The Go-Betweens

Friday, May 05, 2006

we're not into that, are you crazy??

I'm a massive fan of Marvin Gaye and have been meaning to write more about him since my Valentine's Day post earlier this year.

Most people know the story of Marvin's life - the childhood teasing that led him to add the "e" to his surname, the abusive transvestite preacher father, and his (private and public) performance anxieties. He was a troubled man indeed, which makes it all the more fascinating that he should have made such beautiful music.

Drug issues and financial problems in the mid-to-late 70s led him to retreat from the limelight. The young Rick James had been a huge Marvin fan, apparently hanging around recording studios whenever his idol was working. In the early 80, Rick's star was in the ascendancy, just as Marvin had hit rock bottom and moved to Ostend to lick his wounds and plan his comeback, Midnight Love. Here's Marvin's response.

Marvin Gaye - Clique Games/Rick James (Original Version of "Midnight Lady")

Studio outtakes are a tricky one - more often than not, what ended up on the studio floor should've stayed there. However, this is a looser, longer take with more emphasis on the vocals. And for some reason, nothing says "here comes summer!" more than a synthesised bass and early 80s drum machine! Or is it just me?

Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing (Original Vocal)

Despite everything that Marvin had been through (and put himself through), he still had the most beautiful voice. On this acapella take of "Sexual Healing", it's spine-tingling to hear him knocking out a seemingly-effortlessly perfect vocal. (is it a scurrilous bit of rumour-mongering, or did he really knock one off before doing this vocal?) I love it when he stretches himself on the bridge and when you can clearly hear him tapping along. However, it's also a bit weird to clearly hear the final line which was faded out on the released version...

Backing vocals are by Marvin, Gordon Banks (Marvin's brother-in-law, rhythm guitarist and Midnight Love's de-facto co-producer) and Harvey Fuqua, who had put together Marvin's first vocal group, The Moonglows.

Marvin Gaye - Message to CBS Records Staff

Marvin obviously saw Midnight Love as his big comeback, embarking on a US tour which would be marred by drug-induced paranoia and a terrible scene during each performance of "Distant Lover" where he would strip off to his underwear. When the tour ended he retreated to his parent's house where (it's widely believed) he effectively goaded his father into killing him so that he wouldn't have to commit suicide, something he'd tried on several occasions.

When I have time, I'll do a post about "Here, My Dear" - one of my favourites, and an album that has gone from being his most criminally ignored release to his most widely misunderstood. Until then, bat-fans, keep it Domino...

Buy - Midnight Love/The Sexual Healing Sessions
Visit - Marvin Gaye on Wikipedia
Visit - the Marvin Gaye page