THE ROOTS MUSIC CLUB, DONCASTER
FEATURED ALBUM | GRAHAM NASH | NOW | BMG | 02.06.23
If you are already aware of the distinctive desert blues sound of this exceptionally vibrant Tuareg outfit, Tinariwen’s ninth album will come as no surprise, certainly in terms of its quality musicianship and those familiar and easily accessible rhythms. What might surprise some though, is the involvement of famed Canadian musician Daniel Lanois, whose production helps drive some of this music along. Originally conceived as a fusion between Sahara Desert musicians and those closer to the Sonoran desert, Tuareg meets Cowboy if you like, the project initially suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune, namely Covid, which threatened top scupper the project, though the album finally came to fruition with more concentrated effort than convenience. The western influence is most immediately felt on “Tenere Den”, which sounds familiar, a little like Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land”, itself based on an old Carter family tune. The idea of the desert blues meeting, essentially country music, has its rewards in these tracks.
Choice Tracks | Golden Idols, Stars and Stripes, Holly’s Back
FLICK THE DUST OFF | CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL | COSMO’S FACTORY | LIBERTY LBS 83388 | 1970
I have to confess, I didn’t really get to hear the debut LP by The Flatlanders until well after the band folded in the early 1970s. The songs on One Road More were recorded in 1972 at the Singleton Sound Studio in Nashville, featuring the band’s three lead members Butch Hancock, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Joe Ely, all of whom have subsequently carved out successful solo careers, together with Tommy Hancock (no relation to Butch), Sylvester Rice and Steve Wesson, who provided the musical saw on such songs as “Tonight I Think I’m Gonna Go Downtown” and “One Day at a Time”. The Jimmie Rodgers influence is nowhere clearer than on the yodelling “Waiting for a Train”, which opens the second side, a song that features Gilmore’s distinctive voice, a clear homage to the singing cowboy. Most people probably remember this album for Gilmore’s paean to the Big D “Dallas” and it’s opening line ‘Did you ever see Dallas from a DC9 at night?’, again with that weird theremin-like musical saw humming along. Short-lived but phenomenally influential to future generations of Country and Americana songwriters, The Flatlanders have since enjoyed one or two reunions to varying degrees of success.
Choice Track | Lookin’ Out My Back Door
SINGLED OUT | DAVE AND ANSIL COLLINS | DOUBLE BARREL | TECHNIQUES TE-901 | 1970
I first saw Maggie Bell at one of her final performances fronting her then band Stone the Crows during their Ontinuous Performance tour at Sheffield City Hall on 30 September 1972. This was after the tragic death of guitarist Les Harvey, brother of Alex Harvey, who I would also later see at the same venue. The singer dominated the stage with her raw bluesy voice and Joplin-esque stage presence. The Glaswegian vocalist continued as a solo artist through the 1970s after the break-up of the band, remaining under the management of Led Zeppelin’s notoriously fearsome manager Peter Grant, releasing the Suicide Sal album in 1975, plus a handful of singles including this, each on Zep’s Swan Song label. “Hazell” was the theme song to the TV drama series centred around a cockney private detective James Hazell, played by Nicholas Ball, which ran for two series in the late 1970s.
FIFTY YEARS AGO | BERT JANSCH | MOONSHINE | REPRISE MS 2129 | JUNE 1973
Gong’s third album Flying Teapot is possibly best remembered as being the second album to be issued on the newly established Virgin record label, being released on the same day as the more well known Tubular Bells by Mike Oldfield, which had the catalogue number V1001. Flying Teapot, subtitled Radio Gnome Invisible Part 1, also saw the arrival of Chingford guitarist Steve Hillage, initially as a contributing musician to the first in a trilogy of albums, the others being Angel’s Egg and You, for which Hillage had by then joined a s a fully-fledged member of the band. With one or two fun numbers, notably “The Pot Head Pixies”, a bizarre pop tune, with spoken interludes, which sound as if delivered by Spike Milligan’s ‘Eccles’ character, the album remains accessible and is probably most remembered for the twelve and a half minute title piece, a jazz workout reminiscent of Weather Report. The LP was issued in two different gatefold sleeve versions, both featuring cartoonish paintings of the titular teapot, designed by Dingo and Maggie, not to mention Tom Fu, as indicated in speech bubbles on the inner spread. One of those LP sleeves that was generous to those of us who read it on the bus ride home.
Choice Track | The January Man
My Northern Skies originally began as a review page, though some now prefer the term ‘blog’, way back in the days of My Space, which then morphed into an online journal and eventually into Northern Sky, a review site dedicated to a broad range of music, with contributions from various friends and acquaintances involved in music. Recently, the website has become more of a personal diary, a place where I can chronicle precisely what I might be currently listening to, some of my ongoing musical obsessions, one or two records from my own personal collection and a selection of new records that have either been released recently or are due for imminent release, kindly sent to me by artists or their PR people. I can only guarantee one album review per week (I no longer review single tracks), but most submissions get played on the accompanying radio show/podcast My Northern Friday, including some of the so-called ‘singles’.