Saturday, 29 March 2014

Goodnight Lenin: 17 hours, 2 studios, 2 finished cuts, 1 7 inch.

This is about doing it differently. It's also about Record Store Day, the annual Indie record store bash where 700 UK stores – yes, there still are that many – celebrate their independence, and, often, survival. 

This follows on from last week's, on the Album format. If artists are using the format the way last week's post suggests, Indie record stores are where you'll need to go to get them. 

On Record Store Day, a world of lovingly prepared, unique and mainly indie collectibles will be on sale. Pressing runs will be insanely limited. I really can't see any acts gaining financially: it's done to highlight a retail sector which supports independent artists, sometimes in very difficult trading conditions. 

On Sunday 23rd March, Goodnight Lenin were in Birmingham's Highbury Studio to cut two songs for Record Store Day. The tracks were mixed at Artisan; all done in under 24 hours, with a limited 7" vinyl run to come from the results. The songs? vintage Crosby Stills Nash and Young. The band's many reasons, along with session photos, exclusive rehearsal audio and the finished articles are after the jump. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

That difficult first album: why do it at all?

OK, what's the least attractive format?
I went to a terrific show weekend before last at Ort Cafe in Birmingham. The opening act, previously the Young Runaways, now morphed to Drakelow, kicked things off. The front man, in between some rather nice songs, talked, in some detail, about plans for a forthcoming album. And that started me thinking. 

Here's the thing. I get exactly why Drakelow are working on that album. I applaud them. But in a perverse way, albums are now a terribly dated concept, at least from my aged perspective. From an artist's perspective, it's clear: doing an album means you set your stall out, you make a statement, you express yourself. You leave something more substantial in the world than the memory of a few live gigs.

Most of the acts I know want to, or are preparing to, cut an album, or a single, or some vinyl, or an EP. And yet, the concept of an album is now well over a hundred years old. It's out of time. 

Friday, 14 March 2014

The Beat goes on. And on. And on. Three different ways.

UPDATE: A revised and expanded version of this post 
is included in the Radio To Go ebook, Survivors 

It's complicated. We're now living in a universe where three, count 'em, three Beats are clattering, rattling, skanking, twisting and crawling.
Everett and his cohort of Mighty Mighty local Bosstones. Photo by Horseman
Dave Wakeling, a founder member of the original Beat, lives in California, and leads The English Beat. Fellow Beat founder Ranking Roger leads his brand of The Beat at home, and Everett Morton, the original drummer, has just announced dates for his band, Beat Goes Bang

Time for a chat with Everett, to go with this blog's existing posts on Dave and Roger. you'll find links for those at the bottom of this post. There's clearly a bit of history here. I wasn't planning to dig too deep into the feelings that boil up over a thirty year professional association. But I did... just a bit. 

The immediate question that springs to mind is: leaving Dave's US-based operation aside, is there room for two Beats in the UK, and what sort of musical differentiation will there be?

Monday, 10 March 2014

The Other Campbell Brother

While the three younger Campbell brothers wrestle with UB40's disputes, elder brother David is rebuilding a folk career, with echoes of their legendary father Ian.

Photo courtesy of Ian Dunn at Principle Photography
Among Birmingham's musical dynasties, one family stands out: The Campbells. The late Ian Campbell was a stalwart of UK folk from the 50s onwards. Driven by socialist principles, he ran the famed Jug Of Punch folk club for decades, hosting everyone who came up through the UK folk scene of the 60s and 70s.

Three of his sons, Robin and Ali, and later Duncan, helped rewrite British Reggae. The fourth is a traditional folk singer. David Campbell, the eldest by two years, is re-emerging in folk clubs and festivals. Like his dad's work, and like the early UB40 recordings, his work is shot though with political conviction; it's a family tradition.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

St Pat's! Paul Murphy, Boat To Row and The Old Dance School at the Emerald Village

Welcome 2014 additions to St Patricks at the Custard Factory with Moseley Folk. There's some great local music, too, all free. You might have to move around a bit...

If you absolutely must
As of today, we're two weeks away from St Patricks Day. In Birmingham, as elsewhere, it's a huge deal. But it's especially important in Brum because of the size - and roots - of the brummy Irish community. And it's the third largest St Pat's party in the world, behind New York and Dublin. Crikey.

Of course, it's a huge deal everywhere. And it means different things to different people. I'm not a fan of green beer or silly hats, but lots of people love that stuff, so if that floats your boat, well good luck to you.. There is something particularly nice about the fact that St Pat's in Brum, while a huge knees-up, is also a massive cross-cultural celebration. And everyone loves a parade. If it's got dragons, so much the better. So, of course, there will be a dragon: an Oilliphéist, no less.

What about music? Oh yes, there's tons of music. Details – some details, at least - after the jump.